Expertise: the value of lifelong learning

To be an ‘expert’ is not a finite thing. A true expert never thinks they know everything and is always seeking to deepen their knowledge and enhance their skills. Expertise can be gained in a number of ways, and it’s important to ensure we are continuously learning in order to remain at the top of our game.

I’ve been on a high for the past week. Why? We hosted a lovely retreat for women called ‘Authentic You’ where our participants find their own self-truths with the help of our horses.

It was excellent on so many levels, not just because it’s been a welcome return to face-to-face workshops, but because I genuinely love seeing how powerful the experience is for our participants. There were plenty of what I call ‘aha moments’ where people had fresh revelations about themselves.

And, as always, I had my own revelations that help enhance my professional development. Our programs all centre around leadership – encouraging people to find their inner leader and authentic leadership style.

One of our horses, Bart, is great at helping our participants do just that! In order to successfully lead Bart, our participants must be clear and congruent in their interactions with him. During our retreat, everything was going smoothly for Bart and his human team mate, Kim. However, all of a sudden no matter how clear Kim’s communication appeared, Bart did not want to follow. I had to really dig deep to facilitate around what could be happening in their team to get them moving forward again.    

It really reinforced the value of continued on-the-job learning, and reminded me that no matter how much of an ‘expert’ we are in our given field, there is always more to learn.

The value of lifelong learning

I am a big believer in experience as a teacher – and I do genuinely believe that we learn and continue to learn from a wide variety of experiences in life.

Having said that, I also think there is a lot to be gained from combining this with more formal continuing education – whether that be training courses in softer skills like people management, learning new areas such as digital technologies, or updating your knowledge of industry-specific developments.

A report from consultants KPMG on predictions for the next 20 years said ‘lifelong learning will become a human need’.

“Emotional intelligence, empathy, creative problem-solving, adaptability and the ability to deal with ambiguity will be crucial”.

I couldn’t agree more, which is why we focus on these topics in our own training.

Finding time to acquire new expertise

Most of us do enjoy improving our expertise, acquiring additional skills and learning something new, but it often gets pushed to the bottom of our long to-do lists.

One of the benefits of lockdown has been that some people have had time to do extra training and been able to access a wider variety of courses online. Here in NSW, for example, we have had the government make some TAFE courses free to help people improve their expertise.

I’ve seen this first-hand. We had one lady who had been interested in our ‘train-the-trainer’ courses for quite some time, but never found the time. Then, when we moved online due to COVID, she finally seized the opportunity. She was so happy with the outcome and the possibilities it opened up to her; a whole new career, in fact. And, if it hadn’t been for the pandemic, she may never have made that change.

According to KPMG, the future will see employers taking a greater role in providing and encouraging this ongoing learning. And there will be even greater choice about how and where we access education. I think we have all already noticed there’s already a lot of great online learning available.

And, we at Leading Edge are jumping on board as well – soon we will be launching our own free Wholistic Leadership Webinar. Stay tuned!

What kind of upskilling have you engaged in lately? Did you learn something during COVID? Let me know in the comments. For more information or to register for our free upcoming Wholistic Leadership webinar, shoot us an email