Chances are you have had at least one point in life where you feel like you have reached your peak, or surpassed what feels like your learning ability (e.g. you have ‘been over your head’ in a work project or situation that has completely drained you and/or questioned your ability to deliver). It is not an easy place to be, nor is it much fun. The good news is that even in the midst of moments like these, we have an incredible capacity to continue learning and the ability to apply these learnings to different situations. 

Essentially, this is a bit of what learning agility is about – continuously learning new skills; being open to new ways of thinking and applying these to new situations. It is sparked by curiosity and the desire to challenge the status quo; putting ourselves out there to try new things where success is not guaranteed. In doing this, our focus shifts from curiosity to overcoming an unfamiliar challenge. This requires us to be fully engaged and adapt quickly to changing circumstances in order to deliver. And after delivery, we need to reflect and understand what/how/why we did what we did to deliver. Questions like: what are our takeaways, what would we do differently, what worked well & why, allow us to apply our learnings in different ways. This, along with some humility, allows us to continuously learn, develop and adapt to the ever-changing circumstances that surround us.

As a learning development professional who started out as an engineer, the essence and approach of development through learning agility really resonates. Not only have I had my fair share of ‘being over my head’ in work projects, I have also had numerous moments where I have thoroughly questioned my ability to deliver. There is a fear of failure that I need to push out of my way in order to welcome the unfamiliar challenges. Every time I do so I am reminded of the quote: ‘Nothing exciting ever happens in your comfort zone.’ Let’s face it – most development happens outside of our comfort zone. My question for you is, are you willing to go there?

by Nicole Mills

For more information on Learning Agility, I found these resources quite helpful:

White Paper: Learning About Learning Agility by Adam Mitchinson and Robert Morris

The Five Dimensions Of Learning-Agile Leaders by Kevin Cashman

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®)