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Cultivate A Lifelong Learning Habit (Plus My Summer Picks)

As successful professionals, it can be tempting to get comfortable with what we already know and how things are already done. This trap persists (and tempts) even though we know that to stay relevant and interesting to our clients, employers, and even ourselves, we need fresh ideas and perspective. Which begs the question, how do we effectively foster a habit of continuous learning for ourselves amidst busy schedules and after completing formal schooling? My go-to for nurturing ideas and learning new things amidst increasing professional and personal demands is reading.

The Benefits of Reading - For Your Brain & Business

Reading allows us to easily and effectively gather new ideas from a wide range of sources and to explore things outside of our own industries and geographies. Importantly, it also acts as exercise for our brains. As this article explores, reading heightens brain connectivity, enhances fluid reasoning, and improves emotional intelligence and concentration. Since it involves multiple brain functions, from visual and auditory processes to fluency and comprehension, reading stimulates the same neurological areas of the brain as when you experience something. Perhaps that's one reason many successful CEOs read a book a week. They can take the lessons learned from others over lifetimes and apply them immediately.

Some Suggestions To Get Started (or Started Back Up)

With the popularity and sheer number of options of business books, podcasts, articles, and more, gaining wisdom from those who have “been there, done that” has never been easier. Don't let the abundance of options deter you. Below are a few suggestions from the summer learning list that I compile each year. This year in particular, I find myself gravitating to the classics that help me refocus and recharge. I also find myself consuming more information via podcasts and articles, so I'll share a few of those as well. I encourage you to find pieces that resonate and to cultivate a learning list as part of your professional development and your tailored path to continuous learning.

My 2019 Summer Learning List

Books:

  • Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection - which I find insightful professionally and as a parent
  • David Allen's Getting Things Done - which I revisit each year to ensure I'm spending my time as thoughtfully as I can
  • Greg McKeown's Essentialism - the spiritual cousin to the first two, which is a great starting place for evaluating your priorities

Podcasts:

  • Global Leadership Summit - short interviews of global leaders from different industries and walks of life
  • How I Built This with Guy Raz - deep dive discussions with entrepreneurs on their journey to building successful companies

Articles:

About the Author

A trusted strategist to business and law firm leaders and President of Mountaintop Consulting, Precious Williams Owodunni advises, coaches, and trains emerging and senior leaders. A licensed attorney and former investment banker with Goldman, Sachs & Co., Precious is a frequent speaker on business development, personal branding, entrepreneurship, strategic career management, and leadership. Learn more about Precious here.

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