Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How You Learn Is How You Live - Using Nine Ways of Learning to Transform Your Life by Kay Peterson and David A. Kolb


I am a lifelong learning geek. I enjoy learning new information and absorb it with a thirst for reading, taking online MOOCS, and watching videos. I've always known that I am a visual learner and have tried to gear my learning to my style. The new book How You Learn Is How You Live – Using Nine Ways of Learning to Transform your Life by Kay Peterson, and David A. Kolb was an eye-opening read for me.

Most of what we learn and retain is from experience and hands-on learning. We all embrace a defined method of learning, and for some of us, it's tough to change how we learn. We are introduced to the learning way which is an "awakening life force that's in all of us. We grow and develop by learning". Few of us even realize that there is a process for learning. To be effective learners, we need to view learning as a continuous ongoing process whereby we not only learn new skills but learn to apply existing skills to new situations.

The authors stress how critical it is to discover our personal learning style so that we better understand ourselves and how we best respond. Moreover, they encourage us to learn all of the learning styles because we need to remain flexible in our learning and adapt a style based on a particular situation or those around us. There are nine learning styles based on the Kolb Learning Style Inventory (KLSI 4.0).  Here are the nine learning styles:

  1. Experiencing
  2. Imagining
  3. Reflecting
  4. Analyzing
  5. Thinking
  6. Deciding
  7. Acting
  8. Initiating
  9. Balancing


Peterson and Kolb offer a quick assessment to determine your style along with detailed data on each as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each style. By learning more about all nine styles, you are better equipped to work with others in the style that is comfortable for them. You will have a greater understanding of how to communicate more efficiently with others as well. Caring about the styles of others makes for stronger teams and relationships. Moreover, there are detailed stories and insights about the various methods including how folks have learned about their style the hard way or how they had to adapt their style to a situation or career.

Learning about your style will strengthen your awareness, aid in matching your style preferences to the demands around you, and perhaps give you clues as to why your career performance isn’t where you desire it to be, or explain why some tasks just aren’t interesting to you.

Once you have a better understanding of the nine learning styles, you are ready to embark on learning how to be flexible with the nine styles. Most of us try to stay in our comfort zone when we learn or interact. That doesn't always work. You need to strive to develop strengths in the other learning styles. Effective leaders need to be able to respond differently in situations, and that means changing your style effortlessly.  Matching your learning approach by jumping into another style will enable you to influence others and keep you on the path to lifelong learning.
Integrating learning into your life is a commitment that never ends. We should all be deliberate in our practice and follow three key strategies to be effective. They include deep experiencing (mindfulness, intentional attention, and focus), deliberate learning, and start small with just one big thing. Intertwining your key learning style in with these strategies will set you up for success,

How You Learn is How you Live is a must read if you are a driven learner, desire to understand and influence others or want to become more flexible in your learning or unique situations. I enjoyed learning more about the nine styles and how I need to adjust my style to that of others or in different circumstances.

Each chapter includes a learning cycle checklist for action and practice exercise to put the information that we learn to use and to cement the new ideas introduced. I learned best through storytelling and immersed myself in the various stories and situations presented by Kay and David. The various scenarios enabled me to understand the importance of remaining flexible in using different learning styles as well as the need to learn how others learn in situations so that I can adapt to lead or have an impact.

How You Learn is How You Live is a must read for anyone interested in becoming a more active learner, leader, and communicator.  This nugget of knowledge will guide the reader along the path of learning with critical information, insightful stories, and self-exploration.