I love learning. I always have, and I hope I always will. That’s why I’m so over-the-top giddy about the upcoming Grant Professionals Association’s Annual Conference. As a new member, this will be my first year to attend, and the line-up of sessions available is mind-blowing. I’ve already started participating in the on-demand sessions that have recently become available. Within twenty-four hours of completing a course on extrapolating data from US Census reports, I was able to use my new knowledge and skills to locate information critical to the grant I’m currently working on. Such gratification!
This experience caused me to reflect upon times in my past that I affectionately think of as learning seasons. Naturally, I think of my K-12 school days as a student first because there is no way to measure how much I learned during that season. Foundational lessons about math, science, reading, writing, history, indeed, but lessons about life, community, and citizenship as well. Same with college. The knowledge gained during those years, both in terms of academics and experience, is too vast to quantify.
Add in the learning that occurred when I became a wife, a mother, and later a grandmother, and it’s a wonder my brain didn’t just explode with all the knowledge I’d gathered. Factor in what I learned during a dozen years as a first-grade school teacher and a dozen years as a business manager for a global health and wellness brand, and I figure I must be a real genius! Consider what I’ve learned through life lessons and experiences, both positive and negative. What new knowledge and understanding did I acquire during times of heartbreaking loss? Times of inexplicable joy? Times of fear, failure, frustration? Times of boredom, discouragement, sickness? What knowledge have I gained from traveling, volunteering, growing older?
Isn’t it all so fascinating to consider? Like it or not, as humans, we are always learning. Sometimes we will identify a window of time we can label as a learning season. The upcoming conference I’m so excited about will be a learning season for me. What kind of learning season are you in the middle of right now? Looking for a new job, or getting established in a different position or company? Are you settling into newlywed life, parenthood, retirement? Are you approaching college graduation, a divorce, or experiencing changes to your health, activity level, or daily routine?
These are all learning seasons, my friends. Some of the lessons you learn will come through formal education or training. Others will come by the seat of your pants. But when your current learning season ends, you’ll come away with new experiences, new knowledge, and new skills. Some will thrill you, as you’ll be able to apply them immediately to your next endeavor. Others will break your heart because they will be lessons you never wanted to learn. But my encouragement to you is to welcome the growth. Don’t squander a single opportunity to learn something new or apply insights gained through both the hard knocks and the triumphs to future challenges and life lessons.
When the Grant Professionals Association’s Annual Conference wraps up this year, I expect both my brain and my heart will feel full. I will have a plethora of new tools in my toolbox that I will utilize for years to come as a grant writer. It’s a learning season I’m so looking forward to experiencing! My hope for you today is that no matter the learning season you’re in the middle of, you’ll bring away some new tools that will serve you well in the future. Like it or not, you’re going to be a learner all the days of your life. Make the most out of every lesson.