If you work for an organization today, you were most likely expected be ready for the future, yesterday.

As a result, the ability to learn digitally has never been more of an asset. You don’t have time to wait for the next class that’s offered — you need to learn now.

But let’s take a step back: Do you even know what it is that you need to learn? Not what you want to learn, but what you need to learn. To quote the over-quoted, you don’t know what you don’t know.

From a leadership development perspective, there are a variety of excellent digital tools — such as self-assessments, 360 assessments or knowledge pre-checks through various learning platforms — to help you learn what you need to know. Try either of these approaches to start:

  • Increase your self-awareness through a multitude of online assessments and then look at the gaps, or opportunities for improvement. Then work on these gaps.
  • Look at where you want to be, what role you want to be in, and what skills are needed in that role.

Great — now you’ve figured out what you need to learn. If you have access to some great digital learning products, this is where our real conversation begins. If you don’t, look at what your HR/Learning and Development/Talent Management group offers.

Based on what I’ve seen, about 80% of L&D organizations have purchased excellent digital content for their organization, and the learners in the organization don’t know they have it. Just check — you may be surprised.

Time is Your Most Precious Resource

Once you’ve got the content, remember the age-old wisdom: “There is no time like the present.” There are 2 parts to time; deadlines and creating space for yourself.

Deadlines: Set a deadline for completing your learning. Tell someone that matters that you set this deadline. Make a pinky-promise. Bet on a cup of coffee or a drink. Make it count in the real world if you follow through on your intentions.

Making space: Set blocks on your calendar to learn. If it’s not on the calendar, it won’t happen. It’s as simple as that.

Learning Doesn’t Mean Watching or Reading

Aristotle once said, “For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”

After you read a motivating book or watch a transformative TED Talk ever, does your behavior change instantly? Probably not without intention.

After you learn a new skill, be very purposeful about how you will practice it. Write down how putting it to use felt. (Spoiler alert: It won’t feel good the first time. Or the second or the third. But you’ll get the hang of it.)

If it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth it, and you would’ve arguably set your sites too low. A new leadership skill is quite likely the hardest habit to form. It’s not easy to embrace conflict or give direct feedback. It’s not easy to plan collaboratively or start thinking strategically.

Reading an article about the “32 Things Never to Say in Front of Your Boss” makes for a great diversion from work, but it doesn’t make it more likely that you’ll practice what you read. If you reflect on how your last meeting with your boss went, and run through that article like a checklist — then you’re getting somewhere.

Celebrate Your Success

Once you’ve learned something new, and practiced it, pat yourself on the back! A great way to do this is to reflect. I love the DayOne app. Capturing new experiences that went well is really important because humans are naturally wired to remember our failures, and try to learn from them. We should take just as much effort to learn from our successes.

Writing down your successes is a great way to ensure that you turn infrequent behaviors into frequent habits. We always love to learn in collaboration with our clients, partners, and practitioners in the field. Here are a few questions to spark a discussion:

  • What other ideas do you have for being a savvy digital learner?
  • What is the skill that you most recently developed digitally?
  • What is a digital learning experience that you experienced and loved?

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