Learning as Lifestyle

“When do you read all that?” asked a friend of mine shortly before a seminar. I was talking with her about a book containing great example that could help move the discussion forward in the seminar. I answered tersely: “Always.”

I read in the train, on the plane, in the bus. I listen to books while I drive, when riding the bicycle or when I’m out for a walk. Maybe I should finally write it down, but according to my estimates, I read on average a book, numerous blog entries and hundreds of Twitter messages each week. Since I discovered the library across the street when I was 9 years old, I have been reading a lot. Unfortunately – in contrast to a good friend of mine – the classics never really interested me, so I always count myself as one of the literary philistines.

Learning outside the specialist bubble

However, a few months ago I was successful at breaking out of my specialist bubble. For a while now, I no long immerse myself exclusively in my specialization of management and organizational development. I watch YouTube videos on minimalism, travel, camping and bike riding. And when I take a look at something, I also read the corresponding book. Currently, I am reading “It’s all about the bike” by Robert Penn (here is a review), am leafing through “Die Philosophie des Radfahrens” and am enthusiastically listening to the new book from Gerald Hüther, Sven Ole-Müller and Nicole Bauer“Wie Träume wahr werden: Das Geheimnis der Potentialentfaltung”. In doing this, I get through one to two books each week.

5 Hours a week for something new

How does that work? I can’t tell you, but not too long ago I came across the video “Why constant learners all embrace the 5 hour rule”. Without having formulated it as a personal process, it made something clear to me: Yes, I am a natural learner. I need to learn like a fish needs water. I read, listen to talks, go to conferences and watch one documentary after the other. I easily spend an hour a day learning.

For me, it’s important that I let it drive me. While reading, watching or listening, I take note if something interests me and then I continue to read more about it until something new interests me.

This annoys my environment occasionally since I usually put what I read into action. Just ask my wife how many hours I have spent looking for, choosing and testing the right touring bicycle. Now that I have found the right one for me, I have ridden my bicycle more in the last three months than I have in the last 30 years.

This is, for me, the most important principle of learning: Implementing knowledge is more important than talking about it. Does everything have to be implemented? No – just enough until the next goal is reached.