Read how Nikki's love for learning grew stronger post formal education and the value that it has added to her everyday life.

Aside from a few classics (“ET phone home”), it’s rare for me to be able to quote from a film.  Yet the phrase “learning never stops until you have soil in your ears”, from 2010’s “The First Grader” resonated immediately as it seemed to so closely represent my life philosophy.

It’s not unusual for me to say I love learning, so I felt compelled to share my thoughts on this topic.  But then came the issue of knowing where to start and how to encapsulate them in just a few hundred words.

What learning means to me...

Fundamentally I believe learning is essential to being able to adapt and thrive in a changing World.  It’s also practical – learning how things work means I can get things done more efficiently.  But neither of these factors necessarily brings about enthusiastic feelings.

Unlike Cilla, Adam, and Patricia I’ve recognised my true love of learning has come about since ending my formal education.  This was at times a rigorous and intense experience which, while it gave me paper qualifications, left me feeling like I never wanted to sit an exam or write an essay again.

More than formal education...

It wasn’t really until I left permanent employment to pursue a career based around a portfolio of different projects that my view of what learning means to me altered. In part, the decision to follow this path was as I craved the variety and learning opportunities it would offer.  I’m grateful that this continues to be the aspect that I appreciate most about this way of working.

However, without a training budget or “Learning and Development Plan” I’ve also needed to be a lot more creative about how I access opportunities to learn.  I’ve discovered that these are endless.  While there is a wealth of options online from reading blogs, and joining webinars to taking courses, I’ve also become particularly interested in peer learning and the generosity with which others share their knowledge through regular group meetups and 1-1 conversations.

The future...

Most powerful for me has been participating in and facilitating Action Learning which has given me a structure with which to address my own challenges and opportunities and to support others to do the same.

While my formal education gave me facts and figures, I believe my continued learning now allows me to be more resilient, able to understand a range of viewpoints and to spot and build connections where these aren’t always obvious.  So, although I sometimes miss the right or wrong answers and clarity of being given a grade, my learning now has greater breadth, less pressure and is a more enriching experience.

Entries for our Love to Learn competition close this Wednesday 28 February, so don't delay, submit your blog today! See how you can get involved here.