Four Foundations for Lifelong Learning

By our Education and Talent Lead, Margo Purcell (February 2021)

For me, there is often a level of nervous excitement whenever I am going to do or learn something new. I love learning new things and I want to do high quality work so I channel that nervous energy into preparing, drawing on a broad range of resources and rehearsing. I also walk into the engagement accepting that I’ll probably make some mistakes along the way and am prepared to learn from those as well.

Feeling that nervous excitement has preceded my best work.

You know what has preceded my worst work? When I felt like I “knew it”, was overconfident to the point of under-preparing and walked into the engagement closed to learning because I already “had it.”

What does it take to learn something new? What leads us to gain true understanding?

  1. Mindset

  2. Vulnerability

  3. Humility

  4. Curiosity


An open mindset means we are open to new ideas, concepts and diversity of thoughts and perspectives. Combine this with a growth mindset (a belief that our capacities and talents can improve over time) and you have a solid foundation for learning.


When learning something new, vulnerability is the ability and willingness to acknowledge (even to yourself) that you don’t know or understand something.


“Ignorance is the absence of that which can be learned that would be helpful.” - Ken Low

Humility allows us to accept that there is so much we don’t know and we can see this as an opportunity to grow and reduce our ignorance through learning.


We mentioned in a previous blog post that we are all born curious. Curiosity is a “desire to know or learn.” It is an innate trait that we can use to reduce our ignorance and expand our realm of knowledge and understanding.

"So, what stops us from learning something new? We do. We often stop before we even start. To get started, get curious." ---Margo Purcell, Talent Lead

Educators - our role is not to be an expert in content delivery. It is to create the conditions and environment for people to learn, to ask powerful questions that spark their curiosity and to guide reflections in failures that lead to understanding why it failed and how to prevent that in the next attempt. This means being learners ourselves with the humility to know that we also have so much more to know - and our students can be our greatest teachers. We can learn by observing what stimulates curiosity, listening deeply, actively seeking feedback, and integrating that feedback into the learning experiences.

If we can be willing to try and fail, we create the conditions for learners to fully explore and discover what’s possible. Those possibilities are endless.