Never Stop Learning

May 13, 2024

I was at my granddaughter’s graduation from pre-school a few days ago. I love these experiences. Kids are excited, parents and grandparents are excited, and teachers shed tears. It’s a great reminder that the future we want is always in front of us.

What I didn’t expect was to be transformed by one of the songs the kids performed. If you are a teacher, I’m sure you’ve heard the song, Never Stop Learning, by Theresa Jennings. It was the first time for me. Rarely do I hear a song that so clearly describes what I believe. I was transported emotionally to a different place as those cherub voices sang. Who would have thought that a class of preschoolers could do that to a 70-year old grandparent.

I would probably infringe on copyright laws if I printed the words to the song, but you should look them up and read them. Better yet, find a recording of a preschool or kindergarten group singing it. The essence of the song is conveyed in the title, Never Stop Learning. Regardless of your age, keep learning, discovering new things, discovering more about who you are. It has become my personal anthem.

For many people, there comes a point in life when they stop learning, and start circling the wagons – trying to protect what they currently know and believe so that no one will take it away from them. I see a lot of that today everywhere – fear that what we assumed to be true might not be; fear that the future is changing in ways we didn’t anticipate. I get it. It’s hard to let go of long held beliefs about yourself, others, the rules of the game, the world, and the universe. But the only way to keep growing is to let go of what is no longer relevant because the world has changed.

The song reminds me of a deeper truth that we all need to see and embrace. Adapting is the key to not just surviving but thriving. And adapting begins with curiosity - the willingness to stop, look, and listen to what is around us. When Charles Darwin set sail on the HMS Beagle on December 27, 1831, he had no idea he would transform science. On that journey, though, he discovered animal species that had adapted to survive in challenging environments. He was curious, and science was forever changed.

The world, your world, and your work – they’re always changing. Open your eyes and learn from those coming into the workplace today. Just because something worked ten years ago doesn't mean that it will be effective today. Digging in your heals will not create new growth, improve performance, or help you innovate. It’s actually the opposite. Sure, we must keep the core principles and values that matter, but a willingness to observe, listen, and adapt are the core traits of leaders who will build a future where this generation of preschoolers that I heard singing Never Stop Learning will thrive. 

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