What Lateral Learning Looks Like For Me

May 9, 2016

Le Fashion Home Office

Image via Le Fashion

At the beginning of this year I made a conscious decision to set Positive Priorities, rather than resolutions. As the year has progressed, I’ve been worked through each of these, and I’ve discovered that some have taken greater precedent than others.

For me personal growth has sky rocketed to the top, and in particular I have been focusing on my lateral learning. Today I am sharing what lateral learning looks like for me and what it means. I hope that in doing so, today’s post may help you to think about your own self-education – because trust me, it’s awesome once you get started!

What Lateral Learning Looks Like For Me

First up, what is lateral learning?

I developed the term lateral learning to qualify a habit I have personally been in to this year. If lateral thinking is “solving problems through an indirect and creative approach” (vialateral learning is: “taking my education in to my own hands, through an exploratory and creative avenue.”

An insecurity that raised its head unexpectedly for me over the last few years, was that of a lack of a ‘teacher’ in my professional life. Having graduated from University a little over two years ago, and gone straight in to full-time blogging, I found myself reaching ‘road blocks’ where I really craved a tutor – someone to learn from. What I would discover later along the road, was that I was looking for general life guidance too, which for me was tied up in my work.

I grappled with this uneasiness, and was even questioning if I wanted to spend some time working for another company – did I need to learn more from the top? How could I learn, with no one above me?

I realised one day that I am in charge of my education, and that similarly to how I work for myself every day, I can educate myself every day too. Instead of looking up the chain of command for tutorship, I began to look sideways.

Whats does lateral learning look like?

Well, for me it includes . . . 

– Getting curious about everything.

I now live by a saying Oli told me when I was nervous of asking a question, “there’s no stupid question” – if you don’t know, just ask! Ask. Get curious. Accruing the knowledge of answered questions is one of the easiest ways to learn. If the information is useless to you once you do know it, it’s unlikely it will ‘clog’ your brain – it is always better to know, that to wonder.

– Developing a team.

When I grew The Elgin Avenue’s team to include two wonderful interns (currently on study leave), I didn’t anticipate how inspirational just interacting with them would be. When you work for yourself, getting any feedback is invaluable – it opens up your perception. Having two extra team members who could feed back, work on elements of the blog, and share their own day to day musings expanded my view.

Further to this, Oli and I regularly have creative meetings now (I REALLY look forward to these as they’re often over coffee at our local cafe ????????), we sit down and really think about shoots we are doing, rather than scrabbling for a time slot to shoot in last minute. We are methodical with what we do, the results of which have taught me so much about effective working methods.

Working with other people taught me more than I could ever have anticipated, by diversifying the pool of creativity you create something far broader.

“Lateral learning is taking my education in to my own hands, through an exploratory and creative avenue.”

– Treat every personal interaction like a lesson.

I was in conversation with someone recently, when I realised that they were subtly accruing knowledge from me, and everyone else they were talking to. The curiosity which was displayed wasn’t pushy or quiz-like, it was a genuine interest in the knowledge the other person had to offer.

It is a well-know trick of socialising and networking to ask the person you are having a conversation with about themselves, so why not ask them something you would like to know more about? Whether it is a trip they’ve been on recently – you could ask them which operator they used, and any tips they have for travelling to that place. Or perhaps they just set up their first office – you can ask them how the process was?

Tap in to your curiosity as often as possible, and try to ask open-ended questions. Ask ‘how’ questions.

And then fundamentally, listen. Don’t interrupt. Allow the person you are talking to, to really share their knowledge.

– Signing up for courses, workshops and webinars.

There are SO many resources readily available  online now, you can learn about just about anything, and often you can do so for free or for a small fee.

Since the beginning of this year I have taken an Instagram workshop, a couple of blogger webinars and Jess Lively’s Worth + Worth course which REALLY opened my eyes as to how we estimate our self worth against out career highs and lows. For every one of these courses I learnt something valuable. And often I did so in a time slot of around thirty minutes.

One super useful element of lateral learning is that is works around you. You simply have to allocated your Smart Minutes to your education.

Here are three sites you can check in with, for online courses – they each release courses periodically – Life With Intention (personal growth and life), Spruce Rd (web design and branding) and Dean St Society (keep an eye out for Hilary’s Instagram class).

– Being introspective.

Over the last few years, and in particular since my decision to move to the countryside, I have come to appreciate how holistic life is. If at the beginning of this year I thought that lateral learning would be all about my career and work, what I have come to realise is that my career and work is an element of my whole life, and that in learning more about myself, I learn more about work too.

Being introspective was not something I gave time to when I was younger – I literally never thought about it! As I’ve grown older I question myself more – not in a doubting myself way, but in an educative way – and in doing so I learn more about myself as well as outward occurrences.

Crucially, whatever form it may take, lateral learning is unique to you. Wherever you feel there is an opportunity to learn, I’m inclined to say – take it! This version of education is all about what YOU would like to learn about, for me I chose to educate myself on my industry, for you it may be something more personal. 

I’d love to know how you get on with this guys! Feel free to leave me a comment below, or drop me a line

I am working on another post to share with you guys about my daily habits, let me know if you have any questions about this, and I’ll be sure to answer as many as I can.

Love, Monica x

Title image via Le Fashion – check out the whole feature, it is gorgeous!

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