Intentional Learning
  • Investigating answers and building awareness without external prompting
  • Pushing forward to gain knowledge, understanding and experience
  • Enhancing our skills and expertise on purpose


This week's Funds For Learning GuideMark is Intentional learning. It was previously defined as follows:

Intentional Learning Growth in knowledge, experience and understanding that is self-motivated, done with purpose, with the aim of being used and applied for the benefit of all.

The key word in this GuideMark is INTENTIONAL. It is not haphazard learning. It is not force-fed learning. It is intentional learning. Learning on-purpose that directly impacts our work, our mission, and our customers.

For me, accepting the notion of intentional learning is easier than actually putting it to practice. Here are two of the roadblocks I encounter that make it harder for me to pursue learning.

Other people who know their stuff. A big roadblock for me is simply being around other people who know, or seem to know, the answers. It can be easy, at times, to use other people as a crutch. Why should I take the time to find the answer when all I have to do is fire off an e-mail or pick up the phone and get a bottom-line answer from someone? Yes, it is important to make good use of my time, and, no, I should be careful not to reinvent the wheel every day; yet, on balance, reinventing the wheel is something I struggle with far less often. Too many times I just seek out a simple answer or response from someone I think knows the answer. In doing so, I can rob myself of the opportunity to internalize information and really learn it.

Stuff that isn't exciting. There are topics that I love and enjoy, and when I start investigating those I can literally spend hours lost in intentional learning. That isn't a problem; however, there are topics in which I don't easily lose myself. That can be a problem. As a practical matter, there are certain responsibilities that I have that require some level of intentional learning.

For example, paying taxes. I do not have an inherent passion to study tax regulations. I know people that do and I am happy that they have that passion. My accountant is one of those people. I am glad to see that there is so much passion for tax law out there somewhere... because I don't have it! However, even though it is not a passion of mine, and even though I use a professional accountant to help me calculate my taxes, there is a certain amount of intentional learning that has to take place on my part.

To help me get past the "it is not exciting" stuff, I focus on the purpose behind the need or responsibility. Taxes aren't exciting to me, but following the law, not overpaying taxes, and staying out of arguments with the IRS does motivate me to learn.


This week, I encourage you not to take the easy answer; instead, take the time to learn the answer yourself. And, if you do not feel like learning it, focus your mind on the positive reasons and results of being a better learner. That always helps me push through and learn more myself - and I hope it will help you, too.

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