'Learner' in a nutshell...
You love to learn. The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other talents and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning. The process, more than the content or the result, is especially exciting for you. You are energized by the steady and deliberate journey from ignorance to competence. The thrill of the first few facts, the early efforts to recite or practice what you have learned, the growing confidence of a skill mastered — this is the process that entices you. Your excitement leads you to engage in adult learning experiences — yoga or piano lessons or graduate classes. It enables you to thrive in dynamic work environments where you are asked to take on short project assignments and are expected to learn a lot about the new subject matter in a short period of time and then move on to the next one. This Learner StrengthsFinder theme does not necessarily mean that you seek to become the subject matter expert, or that you are striving for the respect that accompanies a professional or academic credential. The outcome of the learning is less significant than the “getting there.”
What's the power of the Learner talent theme?
The genius of your Learner StrengthsFinder theme begins with the fact that you love to learn in many areas. It doesn’t matter to you what you are learning, just so that you keep on learning something each and every day. But the genius of your learning doesn’t stop there. You have thought a lot about the learning process. You know how you learn and you know what best contributes to you learning effectively and efficiently. This self-understanding provides a basis for understanding and helping others learn. With little effort, you can analyze the learning habits of others and think through how they can learn most effectively. Based on this understanding of the learning process in yourself and others, you can establish ingenious programs and services to help others become better learners, high achievers, and be better prepared for the future.
How do I grow the Learner talent theme?
1. Honor your desire to learn.
Learners need to learn. This may sound obvious, but you'd be surprised how many Learners I encounter who aren't actively putting their Learner talent theme to good use in their workplaces or home environments! When a Learner feels like their personal development has grown stagnant, it's almost as though something's missing from their lives. When that desire to learn is not met, Learners don't feel fully actualized. Whether at home, at work, or at school, Learners need to feel that they're gaining progress. In fact, some of my best memories are of times when I felt I was learning about something I cared about deeply -- whether it was learning a subject I really enjoyed at school, or learning more about one of my friends.
2. Identify opportunities where you can immediately use what you're learning to benefit yourself or others.
To those with the Learner StrengthsFinder theme, venturing into unfamiliar areas is not a daunting task; in fact, they are excited at the prospect of discovering something new. One way to practically apply this Learner StrengthsFinder theme is to identify a possible area of learning that would benefit your team or community, and then pinpoint immediate applications of that new area. For example, at Strengths School™, one of my favorite things to do is to see how the StrengthsFinder profiling tool could be used in application with other great tools, such as Stephen Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Dr. Travis Bradberry's Emotional Intelligence 2.0. I then create infographics and marketing materials detailing the applications of these tools, which we can immediately use when communicating with our clients. I also volunteer for curriculum planning sessions, during which I can strengthen our current curriculum with the new knowledge.
3. Teach others.
One of the best ways to measure whether or not you've gained mastery of a certain skill or field of knowledge is when you can impart what you know to another person. Think about a skillset or one area in which you feel that your capacity has grown (it could be tangible skill sets such as Adobe Photoshop or writing a decent essay, or it could also be less tangible yet still vital characteristics such as the soft skills to communicate with clients). How would you impart this to another? Or how could you guide another in the process of building up their own capacity?
How could this theme be overplayed?
"All learning, no doing." "Jack of all trades, master of none." "Always on the lookout to learn something new -- but doesn't learn from past mistakes." Because the drive of the Learner talent theme is for constant progression, often we see that the overextension of the Learner theme is when this learning lacks focus or practical application.
Three Practical Ways To Manage This Theme:
- Begin with the end in mind. This is a phrase borrowed from Stephen Covey's bestselling book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. In short, to begin with the end in mind is to visualize the end of your life (quite literally), and what you hope others would say and remember of you at your funeral. This vivid visual helps those with Learner to focus their learning efforts on what matters most to them and to make sure their learning becomes beneficial to those around them (as opposed to simply becoming learning for learning's sake). For example, one of the things I've resolved to do as a result of this visualization is to leave every organization better than it was than when I first joined. This means that regardless of whichever company I join and whatever new skills and competencies I pick up, my learning must always be directed toward the goal of making the organization a better place. This vision helps me in clarifying which skills would be (and would not be) beneficial to growing the organization as well as broadens my perspective on what is necessary.
- Set integrated goals. For Learners, the goal of learning should be tied to a wider objective. For instance, at work, the Learner can seek to always peg his or her learning to a greater organizational goal, such as generating income for the company or improving existing processes or materials. Students, on the other hand, can grow their Learner talent theme by pegging their learning to measurable outcomes (such as a good grade on a project).
- Create metrics or ways of measurement to gauge your progress. Learners need to feel a constant sense of progression. It would therefore be helpful for them to create metrics so that they can see tangible progress in whatever they are learning. For example, when I was in 8th grade (the equivalent of Secondary 2 in Singapore), I was learning typing skills in my computer class. Every week, I'd do a timed test to gauge my progress and see how quickly I could type. That number grew from 60 words per minute to 70, then 80, then 90...and by the end of the school year, I could type at 120 words per minute. Seeing quantitatively how I was improving excited me and spurred me to do more.
That said, it may be tricky to create quantifiable metrics for certain learning goals (such as the soft skills of communication, or perhaps learning how to resolve an argument with a loved one). One suggestion would be to create a set of criteria to measure oneself by. For example, whenever I get into a conflict with a loved one now, I ask myself questions such as, "have I communicated my point without judgment or blame?" "have I taken into consideration his/her thoughts, needs, and feelings?" "has our relationship grown stronger or more distant as a result of this conflict?" Creating such criteria helps keep me on track toward my goals, and brings clarity to what I'd like to grow in further.
Concluding Thoughts: Those with the Learner StrengthsFinder theme carry a phenomenal courage in exploring the vast unknown. To them, these challenging, unfamiliar areas are simply interesting new competencies they can grow into. When this voracious desire to learn and grow is matched with a vision of the "end in mind," individuals with the Learner StrengthsFinder theme are unparalleled in their capacity for exponential growth.
Written by Tan Meiling
Meiling is a writer, editor, and Gallup-Certified StrengthsFinder Coach based in Singapore. As a StrengthsFinder® Coach, she is passionate about helping people discover their innate potential and celebrating who they are. She enjoys reading, learning, and sharing her knowledge through writing articles. Meiling is also actively giving StrengthsFinder coaching to individuals and facilitating workshops in Singapore.
Copyright © 2000, 2012 Gallup, Inc. All rights reserved. Gallup®, CliftonStrengths®, StrengthsFinder®, and each of the 34 StrengthsFinder talent themes are trademarks of Gallup, Inc.