One of the most common misconceptions is that learning is synonymous with education.

You often hear colleagues say they stopped learning after leaving college. The truth is we only get an education from institutions. Learning, on the other hand, is a lifelong process.

To understand this, just think of how a baby learns.

Initially, the baby is too young to get up, walk, or say anything. But soon it starts moving around, and eventually, learns to walk and speak.

The baby does this just by learning from experience.

Learning through experience is not easy, but it is something we all do at different levels.

Let’s look at the example of the baby again. It is not afraid of anything because it doesn’t understand the concepts of safety or fear. As the years roll by, it will learn these concepts through experience. Learning from experience can make us stronger and more capable of doing the right things.

What Is A Learning Mindset?

Mindset is the basic mental structure or aptitude that shapes a person’s thoughts, actions, and behavior towards others. A person is known to possess a learning mindset when their natural tendency is to focus on learning consistently.

A learning mindset is a fundamental trait. A mindset focused on learning can be strong criteria to weigh factors such as:

  • The person’s approach to learning

There are different types of learners. Some are comfortable with formal learning in a mentor/teacher-learner process. Then there are those who prefer real learning through experience.

  • Response to learning

Different people face different challenges and advantages while learning; and so their responses also vary.  Some are quick learners; others could take longer to get used to a concept and could need repeat lessons or additional support.

  • The takeaway

The first objective of any learning program is the ‘knowledge’ that the learners will gain from it. Be it something that boosts their interpersonal skills or professional skill acquisition.

Learning From Experience: How To Do It

Most of our life experiences are great opportunities to learn new skills for personal development. But many people don’t take advantage of such opportunities simply because they don’t have a mindset focused on learning.

For those who have a learning mindset, the experiences become the bedrock for self-reflection. These reflections help them assess their situation, their world view and understanding of human behavior, etc. They then put these ideas to the test and eventually gain new experiences.

Learning from experience is also known as Experiential Learning (EXL). One of the popular definitions of the process says it is “learning through reflection on doing”.

It is greatly different from conventional learning as there may be no teacher or mentor involved. The learner plays an active part in the learning process. It is an individual-focused learning technique for learning from experience.

A common example of real learning through experience is that of botany students. While they can simply learn about the various plants and trees by reading books on the subject, they are regularly taken on trips across biodiversity parks, gardens, and forested areas for learning from observation.

The learners don’t have to rely on things they hear from others or read from books but can learn based on their own experiences. Such learning is usually much more impactful as it can be counted as real learning through experience.

Such experiential learning is a common feature for students of streams such as history, architecture, tourism, and geology. Medical students also get to learn by observation as they attend live surgeries and observe the healing process of patients in hospitals.

David Kolb is a renowned name in the field of experiential learning. According to Kolb, knowledge acquisition is a perpetual cycle. We learn from our personal as well as professional experiences.

Kolb outlines four characteristics of a learner that must be present in anyone keen on learning from experience. These are:

  1. Willingness to actively participate in the experience

  2. Ability to reflect upon the experience gained

  3. Analytical skills to visualize the experience

  4. Decision-making and problem-solving skills that can be applied to new-found ideas

As the above learning experience examples highlight, the process of learning through experience requires a lot of self-effort, initiative, a desire to learn, and an action-based learning period. David Kolb’s experiential learning cycle is an ideal framework for understanding the various stages of the process.

Many modern educators are well-versed with the importance of experiential learning. One of the key reasons behind its impact is considered to be the emotional and sensory experience that such hands-on learning provides. It helps learners connect with actual knowledge instead of simply learning the concepts and information through books. The personal involvement of learners helps them in reflection and that gradually furthers them to learning from experience.

The crux of experiential learning is highlighted by five questions:

  1. Did you notice?

  2. Why did that happen?

  3. Does that happen in life?

  4. Why does that happen?

  5. How can you use that?

These questions make learners reflect on what they observed or experienced and gain long-term knowledge.

Need For Businesses To Cultivate A Learning Mindset:

  1. Learning experience examples:

If you look at the most popular and high-paying jobs of today, you will find that most of them didn’t even exist 20-30 years ago. On the other hand, many of the hottest jobs of 30 years ago—DOS operators, typists, switchboard operators—don’t exist anymore.

Constantly changing technologies and innovations keep changing the nature of jobs and processes that we see in our daily lives..

In recent years, we are witnessing the rapid proliferation of technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation. Jobs are increasingly becoming redundant.

According to research by McKinsey, 400 to 800 million contemporary jobs will no longer exist by 2030.

However, this doesn’t imply there will be no jobs for those currently employed in these positions.

Some jobs are likely to morph into a different form—just like the typists of yesteryears have now been replaced by computer operators and commercial painters replaced by graphic designers.

Other new jobs will be of a more ‘human’ nature that focus on teamwork and creativity. Automation will only take away the mechanical part of the jobs the human aspect and management roles will still be with humans.

So, the time is ripe for businesses to cultivate a strong experiential learning mindset to make sure their employees are ready for future technologies and jobs. Let’s look at some core competencies that human resource managers need to focus on:

  1. Digital Expertise:

With the rapid growth in AI technologies and tools, many businesses have already invested in AI tech or are planning to do so gradually over the next few years. However, most of those companies are not focusing on making their current employees AI-ready.

Once machine learning and AI technologies enter more operational areas, there will be a need for personnel who are well-versed in working with automation and AI.

  1. Ability To Work Seamlessly In An Inclusive Environment:

Diversity and inclusivity are no longer just jargon. The future belongs to offices that are gender/culture/ethnicity-neutral. There will be diverse perspectives, lifestyles, and behaviors in every organization. People who have open or hidden biases against some or the other section will not be desirable. Teams will also need to get rid of their generational biases.


Learning is a continuous process that is not only academic but greatly experiential as well. Everything we do, observe or hear, creates an opportunity for evaluation, understanding, and creation of new ideas. These ideas subsequently get integrated into the work processes and are validated through new experiences.

It is a constant cyclic progression that we all need to learn. However, as various learning experience examples indicate, it is often not easy to get into the learning mindset. That’s where Harappa Education’s Learning Expertly course can help you. It teaches you about the growth mindset and helps you and adopt fresh perspectives on existing problems.

Sign up for the course to step on the road to learning.

Explore our Harappa Diaries section to know more about topics related to the Think habit such as Meaning of Heuristic, Critical Thinking, What is an Argument, Creative Thinking & Design Thinking.

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