It is no secret to anyone that the power of learning goes far beyond the university classroom. We learn with our friends and in our jobs. Any situation could turn into an opportunity to expand our knowledge and experience.
While graduate school equips us with the specialist tools to kickstart our careers, we need to stay open to inspiration that comes from the outside. Whether it is by meeting new people or attending exciting events, keep looking for novel ways to get inspired.
These five TED talks will give you a nudge in the right direction and remind you of the power of learning.
"The secrets of learning a new language" by Lýdia Machová (language mentor)
Have you ever wondered how some people can speak so many languages and never seem to stop learning new ones? Slovak TED speaker and language mentor Lýdia Machová says that she has always been passionate about languages and she tries to learn a new one every two years. In her talk, she identifies one of the key ingredients needed to become fluent in a new language – enjoyment! Without trusting your personal study preferences, you will not be able to enjoy the experience and you might get stuck early on in the process.
Of course, having fun is not enough to be able to speak and write fluently in a foreign language. There are three more principles recommended by Machová – effective study methods, systematic learning, and patience are all part of your journey to proficiency.
"Why tech needs the humanities" by Eric Berridge (entrepreneur)
In his TED talk, Eric Berridge tells the charming real-life story of how a bartender once saved his software consulting firm from getting fired by a client. The experience was a wake-up call for the company, showing them the value of recruiting and training new staff outside the engineering industry. The talk is a timely reminder of why the humanities – literature, philosophy, history, and law, among others – bear so much social and cultural significance today.
“We are scratching the surface in our ability as humans to communicate and invent together,” Berridge says. “And while the sciences teach us how to build things, it’s the humanities that teach us what to build and why to build them.”
So, if you are at a crossroads and wondering whether to pursue a degree in the humanities, be sure to consider all its long-term merits.
"The surprising habits of original thinkers" by Adam Grant (organisational psychologist)
In his experience as an organisational psychologist, best-selling author, and professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania (US), Adam Grant has learned a thing or two about original thinking. If you ever wonder how creative people come up with great ideas, this TED talk will set you on your way to inspiration and encouragement.
According to Grant, original thinkers are the ones that do not necessarily follow the status quo but instead, they challenge it and look for a better approach. Like any human being, an original thinker may be afraid of failure. However, they are prepared to do their research, try their best, and learn from their mistakes along the way. “They know that in the long run, our biggest regrets are not our actions but our inactions,” adds Grant.
"3 ways to measure your adaptability – and how to improve it" by Natalie Fratto (venture investor)
In our fast-paced environment, the ability to embrace change is becoming more and more important. Our professional roles, careers, and entire industries are shifting, and all of us need to be prepared to adapt and change along with them. The good news, according to venture investor Natalie Fratto, is that people can improve their adaptability with some practice and open-mindedness. “Think of [adaptability] like a muscle: it’s got to be exercised. And don’t get discouraged if it takes a while,” Fratto advises.
One method to assess someone’s adaptability is to ask them “what if” questions. This is also a smart way to train yourself and improve your quick thinking. Challenging yourself with “what if” scenarios forces your brain to come up with different versions of the future.
"How to get better at the things you care about" by Eduardo Briceño (learning expert)
Did you know that some of the best chess players work on their skills not only by playing practice games, but by observing grandmasters and trying to predict their moves? This is just one of the many learning insights revealed by Eduardo Briceño, learning expert and CEO of Mindset Works.
He explains that the most effective learners are constantly switching between two states of mind – the performance zone and the learning zone. The learning zone is all about deliberate practice. To get better at certain skills, you need to break them down into specific activities or subskills. By relying on feedback and adjusting our technique every step of the way, we can significantly and purposefully improve the skills we care about most.
These talks and presentations prove how immense and versatile our capacity to learn is. Whether you are a student, future graduate, or working professional, keep looking for new ways to expand your horizons.