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Why You Should Strive to Be a Lifelong Learner

In an ever-changing market and world, it’s more important than ever to stay current, competitive and up to date.

Matt Mayberry

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Many people wonder what they can do to become well-rounded and competitive while increase their rate of success. An often overlooked yet simple way to improve is to increase your knowledge by being a self-starter.

Traditional, structured education is very important, yet much success is derived from highly motivated individuals that have dedicated their lives to the concept of lifelong learning. These individuals prioritise the creation of time in their busy lives each day to educate themselves on new concepts and ideas. These individuals understand the importance of creating plentiful opportunities in all spheres of life.

Related: 15 Free Online Courses That Are Actually Worth Your Time

Your business is only as strong as the people behind it. There’s a direct correlation between individuals who strive for growth in their personal lives and those who thrive in their professional lives. This can be accomplished by committing to the concept of lifelong learning. In an ever-changing market and world, it’s more important than ever to stay current, competitive and up to date.

Pursuit of knowledge is easier than it has ever been before, as technological advances can relay information instantaneously to our fingertips. It’s a modern day privilege to take this convenience and utilise it in productive ways.

First and foremost, you must be willing to expand your mind. Rid yourself of assumptions and convictions so that you can be open and receptive to new information.

This at times may even contradict what you have always believed to be true. You will eventually come across information that challenges your worldview. Rather than remaining static in your comfort zone, use this time to stop, reflect and shed light on these ideas in a way that can develop and expand your vision.

When you come across new information, take the time to think about what you believe and why. Is your outdated mindset preventing you from advancing in a modern world? Be willing to question new information and research it further. Digging deeper will separate you from the crowd and allow you to see the value in developing an independent mind.

Cultivating the mind prior to seeking information is as essential as cultivating a field prior to a harvest. It is a necessity to weed, fertilise and create space where information can blossom and grow.

As the soil of the Earth needs to be fed to blossom, our brains are the absorbent sponge waiting to be fed with new ideas and concepts. Water it daily to stimulate growth, and you will yield a bountiful harvest of information and knowledge.

After the mind has been prepped, the next step is application. Create a to-learn list just as you would a to-do list. These are ideas and concepts you have great interest in learning more about.

Many people may think with their hectic and already overflowing schedules there is simply no extra time to learn anything more than what is absolutely necessary to get through the mundane tasks of everyday life. To simply develop enough skill to adhere to your job description or be informed just enough to get by is a sure pathway to mediocrity.

This is where the self-starters get ahead. They understand the importance of time management and prioritising daily growth. They are constantly striving to know, learn and do more. This competitive edge they have created propels them to success in other areas of life.

Related: How Fortune 500 Leaders Spend Every Minute of the Day

There are many simple, effective and realistic ways to implement daily learning opportunities that do not have to inconvenience your life. Learning on the go has actually never been easier! For those who are auditory learners, audio books are the perfect way to incorporate knowledge with a simple press of the button.

While stuck in traffic on that 30-minute commute to and from work, simply play an audio book that suits your interest. Rather than listening to the same songs in rush hour, listen to a political debate on talk radio. If music is a passion of yours, try listening to music in another language.

Learning information you can utilise in your daily life is very important to having a continuous desire to further advance your education. Skill-based learning, for example, is useless if it isn’t applied. Reading a book on auto maintenance isn’t the same as physically changing the oil or tire on your car.

Reading about art isn’t the same as picking up a brush. If your knowledge can be directly applied in a functional and fun fashion, put it into practice! Many people learn by being hands-on.

Make time one weekend to seek a mentor or attend a personal enrichment class. Culinary, fitness, dance or art classes are all fabulous ways to attain hands-on learning and experience. Volunteering at a shelter or children’s hospital are great ways to learn and culture yourself or your children and on worldly issues that may have otherwise been nonexistent to you.

Think about all the wasted time you spend sitting in doctors’ offices, waiting to pick the kids up from school or in a long check-out line. You could be reading a few pages of a book of your choosing. A simple 15 minutes a day could have you completing a new book every other week!

It’s estimated that Americans are spending 23 hours every week texting and on social media. Imagine spending that time every week on your craft or your personal enrichment. You could speak five languages and be a walking fountain of knowledge by changing your habits and mindset.

Surround yourself with like-minded individuals and try to always take something valuable away from your daily interactions. Many people are professionals in their field and have valuable information and insight to share. If you have questions, ask them! Never be too prideful, for each question you don’t ask is a missed opportunity!

Go ahead and challenge yourself today. Commit to expanding your mind, continuing your education and becoming a student of life. Utilise the world as your classroom, and no matter how big or small, always come away with a lesson.

Remember to cultivate your mind so it is prepared to expand, blossom and grow. And share your fountain of knowledge.

Related: 9 Things Successful People Won’t Do

My bet is you will slowly begin to notice you are not only achieving everything you are setting out to accomplish, but you have stimulated a perpetual hunger that drives you for more in both your personal and professional lives.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

Matthew Mayberry is a former American Football linebacker for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League. Matt is now an American motivational speaker and writer on the topics of success, leadership, motivation, and performance.

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Think Global, Act Local: Business Education For Disruptors, Innovators And Entrepreneurs

As one of the largest and most prestigious business schools in Africa, JBS is focused on producing visionary leaders and managers who are geared for progress across the continent, but connected to the world at large.

JBS

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Disruption. Innovation. The fourth industrial revolution. These aren’t just platitudes at the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), they’re the bedrock of the various courses and programmes on offer.

“We are authentically African, as we believe there are huge opportunities in both South Africa and Africa at large, but we are also looking at the global landscape. We have an incredible opportunity to educate and mentor the future generation of Africa’s leaders and managers by providing them with the tools they need to be true innovators and disruptors,” says Professor Lyal White, Senior Director of the JBS at the University of Johannesburg.

“Day-to-day business in Africa requires leaders to focus on — and deliver — development with a direct impact on communities. The challenges we face present an opportunity. The fourth industrial revolution requires soft skills and humanism in leading and mentoring for competitive and progressive business performance. This is particularly relevant in Africa.”

Taking on a new era

The JBS believes it has an important role to play in future-proofing Africa and her leaders, and is building programmes and a professional teaching staff with this specific goal in mind.

“The scope of the fourth industrial revolution is far beyond its digital or information counterparts,” says Professor White.

“It’s a systemic transformation that impacts civil society, governance structures, human identity, economics and manufacturing, while integrating human beings and machines.

“The underlying technologies for this shift are artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing.”

JBS sees the humanities as playing a critical role in developing the creative and critical thinking that will be essential ingredients to success in Industry 4.0.

“UJ has the highest concentration of staff with PhDs in AI on our continent and we are more than ready to tackle this new era,” he says.

“At an unprecedented level, the global environment demands innovative business leaders with entrepreneurial spirit and government officials who can lead African businesses to succeed in Africa. With our focus on providing global management thought leadership and deep African insights, JBS prepares students for that role, giving them a critical edge for success.”

Related: The Art Of Storytelling: Johannesburg Business School Launches Its Executive Training Programmes

Depth and creativity

Given the opportunities and challenges presented by doing business on the continent, the JBS is developing and delivering bespoke programmes, designed with a keen focus on depth and creativity.

“We’re taking an alternative approach to the norm while ensuring we deliver on international standards,” says Professor White. “Africa needs world-class business education with a local flavour to develop the management competencies we need and to build excellence. This is the model and approach JBS has taken.

“Fortunately, we attract a great diversity of students who have the drive to succeed, confidence, a strong record of triumph and a burning desire to advance the evolution of business in our society,” he adds.

Bringing world-class education to Africa

“Our offering includes undergraduate diplomas and degrees, postgraduate degrees and programmes, and will soon include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. On the cards are also online programmes, blended learning and unique contact programmes with delegates from across the continent and partners from around the world.”

JBS as a disruptor in the executive education category has two goals: Designing programmes to match the demand of an emerging market, and reshaping existing programmes to meet the demand of customers as their needs evolve.

“As a late entrant to the business school market, JBS will be agile and adaptable in order to stay relevant and take advantage of the disrupted higher education environment by offering business skills for disruptors,” concludes Professor White.

“Conventional approaches and standard business acumen do not work. Preparing individuals and organisations for this context requires programmes with a difference, which is why we’re including an MBA with a difference in our offering going forward.”

Upcoming Executive education programmes and Masterclasses in 2019:

Programmes:

  • Project Management (26 – 27 Feb)

Become proficient at project management. An essential workplace skill that can boost the impact you have on any organisation.

  • Finance for Non-Financial Managers (4 – 8 Mar)

Expand your overview of financial performance from a commercial perspective across management functions.

  • Storytelling and Creativity (1 – 2 Apr)

The power of the narrative is becoming more recognised across leadership disciplines. Implementing creativity in storytelling will enhance your leadership presence.

  • Negotiation Skills (9 – 10 Apr)

Develop your negotiation skills to create more effective partnerships and better results for your organisation.

Master Classes: 

  • Implementing Strategy (1 Feb)

Delve into the core aspects of implementing strategic deliverables and cascading these across your teams.

  • Coaching and Mentoring Centre of Excellence: Session 1 (7 Feb)

Access a network of leaders and coaches to enhance your personal growth.

  • Marketing Series: Session 1 (13 Feb)

Leverage marketing tools and practices to enhance your clients’ experiences.

  • Generating Shared Value (21 Feb)

Implement practices focussed on business with the purpose to generate sustainable value for your organisation.

  • Innovation Series (12 Mar)

Learn about innovative success stories in the context of industry 4.0 and how to prepare and future-proof your organisation for this digital revolution.

  • HR Series: Session 1 (26 Mar)

The HR Series will address key issues facing HR practitioners with robust debate and suggestions to enhance this function.

For more information and to register please visit our website www.jbs.ac.za or Email us on ExecEd@jbs.ac.za

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English: The Language Of Oppression Or Opportunity?

We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are.

Wits Language School

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Having to communicate professionally in English sometimes strikes fear into the hearts of many South Africans irrespective of their gender, age or business field; the mere thought of presenting to a group of colleagues in English or submitting a report to your manager is daunting and nerve wracking. If you are one of the many, do not be embarrassed; you are in good company.

Despite South Africa’s recognition of 12 official languages and its embracing of multilingualism, English continues to be the dominant language within schools and workplaces and competence is considered a pathway to upward mobility and professional opportunities. While it is evident that one requires good English skills to excel academically and professionally, little attention has been paid to improving the English proficiency of South Africans. This may in part be because English is an official language and it is assumed that all South Africans can speak English well. However, the differences in the type of English one is exposed to and the difference between fluency and accuracy are overlooked.

South Africans are unique; we are multilingual, vibrant and dynamic individuals who utilise a wide variety of linguistic resources when we communicate. It is not odd to find us communicating in multiple languages at the same time; we code switch when we cannot remember the correct English word or when we want to express a thought accurately but cannot find an appropriate English word and we do it effortlessly and automatically. These skills set us apart as innovative language users as we mesh and blend languages in our common goal to communicate accurately.

Related: Knowing The Basics Is Not Good Enough Anymore

Unfortunately, these skills do not hold us in good stead in the workplace where standard and ‘proper’ English is required and suddenly we lose confidence and nerve. We become more conscious of how much we do not know and question what we do know. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by fear when you have to communicate solely in English and are suddenly evaluated against monolingual, Western, middle class norms. Furthermore, it is easy to assume if we incorporate more complex words and use lengthy phrases as well as adopt an American or British accent, our English language skills will suddenly improve. This is a myth; do not believe it!

In order to communicate effectively and appropriately, one needs to be cognisant of the following factors:  the audience, the purpose of the message, the message itself, the grammatical accuracy of the message and the tone of the message. Simply put, one has to ensure that the meaning of the message is always concise and coherent and is phrased in a manner that can be easily understood by the reader or listener.  Secondly, one has to ensure that the grammatical accuracy of the message is maintained; editing and proofreading are essential in order to win the reader’s or listener’s confidence in what you are communicating.

Here at Wits Language School, we are passionate about improving the language skills of South African second language learners and our courses are especially designed to help you improve your English language skills. We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are:

Communicative Grammar Are you interested in improving your editing skills and English grammar knowledge?

Join our Communicative Grammar course.

English Speaking and Pronunciation Do you want to improve your pronunciation and gain more confidence speaking in English?

Join our English Speaking and Pronunciation course.

Business Writing Are you interested in improving your proposal or minutes writing skills?

Join our Business Writing Skills course

Presentation Skills Do you want to give presentations that are dynamic and interesting?

Join our Presentation Skills course.

Report Writing Do you want to write reports that are coherent and well organised?

Join our Report Writing course.

English for Critical Thinking in Business Are you interested in improving your critical thinking skills and becoming a strategic thinker?

Join our Critical Thinking in Business course.

 

Climb the ladder to success and apply today. Applications for 2019 are now open. Wits Language School, changing lives and opening doors.

Read next: Tips To Becoming Fluent

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“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

Wits Language School

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The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education. While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.

Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.

Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.

Related: “Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.

Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.

The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

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