Posted by: alexswallow | April 28, 2013

The importance of learning from others

Hopefully most people reading this will already perceive such learning as crucial. Obviously so much of what we learn about the world, we learn from others, whether that is our parents, our teachers or our peers. In the modern world in an affluent, democratic country we have an incredible wealth of opportunities to learn, including of course the internet, access to books whenever we want them,  travel possibilities and more.

However, how much opportunity do we really give ourselves to learn and grow in both our professional and our personal lives? Some people are fantastic at this: they absorb information like a sponge, they stretch and challenge themselves and are prepared to share all that they know with other people and they put their views into the public arena so that they can be debated (by the public arena here I mean sharing them with anyone else, including their friends). Others, for a variety of reasons are less good at it.

It is a useful observation that we have two ears and one mouth and that we should use them accordingly. Of course that doesn’t mean that we should keep silent, or be ‘seen and not heard’. It just means that we should try to find a way to take in as much as we send out and to genuinely pay attention when others are trying to communicate with us. As a person who is fond of talking and has a pretty loud voice it is something I always try to keep in my mind!

Relating this to the charity sector, it is possible for each charity to get so tied up in their area of specialism or the service they provide- which may well be fantastic- and forget to reach out within the sector or between sectors, missing out for huge opportunities for growth and development for their organisation, their staff and their beneficiaries. I made reference to this in a previous post and believe that the more we all share, the more we will all learn.



  1. Interesting Post Alex, often as you say people in the VCS sector loose sight of that opportunity to share and challenge.

  2. Good thoughts Alex
    We often don’t make the most (or realise we are doing it) of informal learning which can be as simple as reading a blog or following a link from a tweet.
    Too often we hang onto knowledge and don’t share what we know with other orgs – or even with our own teams.
    Learning is sharing and collaborating on course development.
    I am always learning and blogs like this help!

  3. […] Here I talk about the importance of learning from the people around us and also this list of charity blogs is a great way to learn more from others. This is my list of the top three people who have inspired me in my life. […]

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