I was never interested in studying or learning in school. When I was in elementary school, I started my own little business where I would purchase stationery in bulk and sell it to my classmates. I also made ice-cream sticks and sell it to my neighbourhood kids. In high school, I was that “unintelligent dork” who was in my own world. Well, I believed I was unintelligent because I failed in almost every subjects in particular maths. When I wasn’t in school, I was playing video games with my brother while most kids went for tuition for extra learning.

Lucky that I was, I “sailed” through pretty easily as I was accepted into Form 6 (its British equivalent of A levels) with my mediocre results. I survived Form 6 although the examination was pretty tough. Again, with my mediocre results, I managed to get into public university to do my degree in Business Administration, the exact programme I wanted. So, all was good.

When I was in university, I met two amazing lecturers. During my marketing course, the lecturer assigned us to read a book and then present the learning points in class. I’m sure most of you have heard of the book. It’s called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. That was the book that kick-started my learning attitude. Then I met another lecturer who is now a mentor and close friend of mine. He introduced me to his collection of books and encouraged me to read as many books as possible. So I started with all the self help books and got really hooked to it.

Developing a Learning Attitude

I transformed from a person who wasn’t interested in opening any textbook in high school to someone who’s obsessed with reading and learning new things. If you’re someone who knew me when I was in high school and only recently get back in contact with me, you would be surprise because you have just met an entirely different person. Never before would I ever imagine that today I’d be a certified training professional and also doing my degree in Doctorate of Business Administration.

As an entrepreneur, you don’t really need an academic degree. I know I don’t need my Master and Doctorate. I just do them to gain a different experience in the academic world. But, to run a successful business, you really do need to develop a learning attitude if you don’t already have one. At one point of time, I stopped reading self-help books for almost 2 years because they became too “elementary” for me. I was looking for business related books instead.

I was so focused on my business growth that I neglected my personal growth. I underestimated the power of going back to basic where I need to re-learn. As Zig Ziglar said it, “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing, that’s why we recommend it daily.” I started to find myself losing the drive in running my business over time even though I’ve accumulated all the skills necessary. That was when I make it a habit to pick up self-help books once in a while or read the biographies of successful people.

Get into the Habits of Learning

Regardless of your purpose in learning something new, be it for practical reason or for leisure, it’s important for you to develop a habit. You need to consciously put aside an hour or two to solely focus on learning. With so many online resources available, learning has never been easier.

To build up this habit, I use Google Calendar app on my phone where I can set my goals based on what I would like to do. You can download them at iTunes or Google Play.

They have preset the main categories such as exercise, build a skill, friends and family, me time and organise life. Select Build a Skill and you can schedule your type of learning and follow the instruction to set them. You get to set how often you want to learn the new skill, for how long and the best time. You can tap on “More Options” to schedule it to your own time or let the calendar schedule it automatically.

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Once you have created your goals, it will prompt you before or on the time scheduled for your learning. If you’ve completed your goals for the day, you can click “done” or “defer” to postpone it to another time. Over a period of time, they could already tell your preferred time to perform the goals and adjust to it accordingly.

Learn Something Entirely Different

If you’re even remotely curious or interested in learning something new, just go for it. For the longest time, I had the interests to design and draw but I kept pushing it away because I didn’t think designing is a lucrative business. I was certainly wrong. I finally took up computer graphics course and just recently, I learned sketching and drawing. One of my businesses that generate the most income involve art and design. So, you just never know if you haven’t try it out.

Learning continuously require discipline and commitment. I can only encourage you to do so but you’ll need to make that decisions to have an open mind and constantly learn, unlearn and re-learn.

“The illiterate of the 21st Century are not those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.”

― Alvin Toffler, Powershift: Knowledge, Wealth, and Power at the Edge of the 21st Century.