• Ian Gibbs

Why You Need A Personal Learning Strategy (Part 1 of 4)

Updated: Apr 10


At the end of last year, I decided to launch my own podcast: The Learnability Show.


The only problem was I had no idea how to do it. I had to start from zero.


Now I’m into my 4th month with a dozen podcasts under my belt.

I’ve learnt a lot.


But my reason for mentioning this is not what I’ve achieved, it’s how I achieved it.

I used my own PLS or Personal Learning Strategy.

Let me digress for a moment.


Opposite my front gate is a huge, oak tree.

It’s a constant reminder of how we learn and grow professionally.


When we’re starting a new job, the training we need is obvious and predictable. It’s like the trunk of the tree. We know where it is and to where it takes us. It’s also easily accessible. The trunk is like all the structured training programs run by people who are well aware of what we need. I refer to these as Formal Learning Events. The trainer controls the content and with how it is presented.


As we progress in our careers, as we move up the branches, our skill-gaps become more specific to our particular needs. And as we move from branch to twig, relevant Formal Learning Events become fewer and fewer, until one day we get to a point where there aren’t any Formal Training Events available.


There’s no one to help us.


At this point we have two options:


The first option is to do nothing. We can just ignore it. The skill-gap will soon be forgotten. Or maybe we are content to stay at our present competency level. Maybe we can add it to our list of good intentions and then focus on something else.

The second option is to take matters into our own hands and devise our own Personal Learning Strategy (PLS).

A PLS is where you take ownership of your professional growth. You decide the What, Where, When, How, Who and Why for yourself.


There’s no magic secret.


There’s no rocket science.


But it’s not something that comes naturally. Neither does it happen by accident.


It requires intentional preparation and commitment.


But when done correctly, it gives you the power to create your own professional growth program in whatever direction you choose.


That’s how I learnt how to podcast.


I didn’t do a course. I just developed my own PLS. And the rest is history.


But instead of podcasting I could have chosen some specific aspect of Leadership, Closing The Sale or Conflict Resolution. All of these skills and many more can be improved through Personal Learning Strategies.


In my next blog I’ll be covering the main parts of a good PLS and how to develop your own - a process which, once learnt, can take less than 30 minutes (to do the PLS, not the actual learning).

There are many advantages to developing your own PLS, but the one disadvantage is that once you know how to do it, the only person you’ll have to blame for your lack of professional growth will be you.


So if you’d prefer not to have that responsibility, just ignore whats to come and carry on as usual.


Otherwise, continue to part 2.

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