Back in the late 1500’s, Francis Bacon, a renowned English philosopher, statesmen, scientist, and author stated that “Reading maketh a full man, discussion a ready man and writing an exact man.”
Basically, what he was saying is that reading about something but never doing anything with the new knowledge limits our growth as individuals. According to Bacon we need to discuss what we read or learn and then write about it.
How Discussion Helps With Learning
Anyone can read a book or article and “learn” something from it but this learning becomes so much more effective when we are able to discuss this with our peers, friends, co-workers, families and friends. This helps us to understand the concept from multiple points of view. We can learn a lot more by openly discussing a concept with a diverse group of people that have differing viewpoints than we can by just reading or learning one person’s viewpoint.
The Role of Writing
The learning process becomes even more profound and personal when we can clearly articulate the learning by recording it in our own words in written format. It has been said that if you cannot describe a concept in writing then you don’t truly understand the concept. Trying to write out something that you have learned in your own words can be a great learning exercise. You begin to question every piece of your writing as you work to ensure that what you are recording is as accurate as possible.
Application is the Final Step to Learning
I would like to add one more step to Francis Bacon’s process – application of the learning.
After discussing the new knowledge with others and writing about it, we then need to apply the learning in our lives and business. Without application, the new knowledge is just parked in our head and is basically useless.
As an example of this, how many people can remember all of what they learned in their college years?
Is this because you didn’t study, barely passed, drank too much and destroyed critical brain cells, or is it because you were unable to apply what you learned after you graduated?
For the majority of us it is because we were not able to apply everything we learned in our everyday lives. My mathematical physics class in fourth year engineering (complete with fast Fourier transforms and Lagrange multipliers) simply did not get utilized once I graduated! I did not need to calculate the energy released during a thermonuclear reaction during the normal course of my day designing oil and gas production facilities! Although I liked the course (as sick as this sounds) and was impressed by what I learned, I was not in a career that needed any of it so it was not applied and hence was not retained.
What Does This Have to Do With You Or Your Business?
Your time as a business person is too precious to waste reading or learning things that you will quickly forget. You, your business, customers and your staff deserve more from you as a leader!
So, every day, with everything you read and learn, make it a point to:
- Discuss what you learn with others
- Articulate your learnings in written format to ensure that you fully understand them
- Apply the learned concepts in your business and everyday life
Do this consistently and you will find you, your staff and your business becoming increasingly stronger and more successful.
Finally, take a look at these other related posts on learning:
- How To Use Active Reading To Improve Your Business
- The Secret to Building a Successful Organization
- Why You Need to Walk in Stupid Every Day
“Reading maketh a full man, discussion a ready man, writing an exact man and application a complete man.” Francis Bacon
How do you apply what you read in your business? Leave your comments below!
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