The Learning Habit

W5 learning habit

John Nieuwenburg

John Nieuwenburg has been a professional business coach since 2004. Prior to becoming a coach, he held executive positions with Tip Top Tailors and BC Liquor Stores. In 2019, MacKay CEO Forums awarded him with Canada’s CEO Trusted Advisor Award in the Small Business category. Since becoming a coach, John has worked with over 350 clients, taking them through a systematic process that helps them feel organized, confident and in control of their businesses.

The most successful business owners are those that invest time and energy in their personal and professional development.

At W5 Coaching we say that if the owner wants a better business, first the business needs a better owner.

The highest leverage habit you can create in your business is the habit of learning.

One of the easiest ways to increase your knowledge is through reading.

As Charlie Munger put it:

In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none, zero.

If the last time you picked up a book was high school, then you’re missing out on massive opportunities for growth.

Leaders are readers!

And yet, most people – especially business owners – are time-starved and busy, so carving out several hours to read a book is a big ask.

This is a situation that calls for a different way of thinking.

Create a habit of continuous learning – here’s how

Massive changes don’t happen because of massive changes in your behaviour. That’s unlikely to happen.

Instead, change happens through developing new habits.

About 50% of everything you do is by habit

What that means is about half of the results you get are a product of those habits.

In short, if you want things to change in your business, then your habits have to change.

1. Make your new learning habit tiny

James clear wrote a book called Atomic Habits that explains how tiny changes accumulated over time produce massive results.

If you were to get 1% better each day, over the course of a year, it would compound to 38%

Each day, another grain of sand gets dropped and you’re not even thinking about it.

But it adds up.

(The opposite effect is also true: if you were to lose 1% each day, you’d get to almost nothing by the end of a year.)

Could you read 3 pages of a book each day? That could add up to 3 books per year!

2. Make your new habit easier to DO than NOT do

Shawn Achor gives a great example in his book The Happiness Advantage.

He wanted to learn to play guitar. So, he put the guitar in his living room within easy reach.

But what he found was that the easier thing to do when he went into the living room was to pick up the remote to watch TV.

6 months went by. He still didn’t have a habit of practicing guitar.

So he took the batteries out of his remote and put them in another part of the house that was a 20-second walk away.

This small change made all the difference.

Because it was now easier to pick up the guitar than it was to go get the batteries for the remote, he began practicing daily.

How can you make learning easier to do than not do? Perhaps you could try attending Windshield University.

3. Use the “habit loop” to your advantage

Habits are formed through a process known as the “cue-craving-response-reward” loop.

Essentially, this means that a cue (such as waking up in the morning) triggers a craving (for example, wanting to feel alert), which leads to a response (such as making a cup of coffee) and ultimately a reward (feeling more alert).

This process can be positive or neutral, as in the example of drinking coffee to feel more alert.

It can also be negative. A great example of responding to a negative cue is checking your phone every time it rings, dings, or pings.

In this case, the phone’s notifications are dictating your behaviour rather than the other way around.

What cue could you use to remind yourself of your learning habit? Maybe you could read those few pages while you drink your morning coffee?

The habit of learning from a business coach

There are many benefits to engaging a business coach, but one of the biggest is the habit of continuously learning.

When you meet with a coach every week, you accelerate your learning by:

They may even recommend a book or two!

If you’d like to jump start your learning habit, book 15 minutes on my calendar here: book a call with John

The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner

become a better owner

If an owner wants a better business, first the business needs a better owner.

This post is part of my Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Better Business Owner. Visit the guide homepage to get my best advice and coaching exercises to help you with:

  • Mindset. Thinking like an owner and seeing the big picture of your business.
  • Planning. Deciding what you want, setting a goal, and making plans to get after it.
  • Habits. Changing your behaviours to help you get what you want.
  • Learning. Getting new information and developing new skills.
  • Growth. Facing your fears, stepping outside your comfort zone, and doing what it necessary to create the business of your dreams.