Becoming a Lifelong Learner

Life-long learning is not something that anyone can do. Life-long learning is something that one must become.  It is a total embodiment of discovery and cannot be turned on or off. By its very nature, life-long learning demands a constant state of being. A life-long learner, as described by Kotter (2012), practices risk taking, humble self-reflection, solicitation of opinions, careful listening, and openness to new ideas. They are, in essence, an individual who intentionally peruses knowledge with a focused intensity. The focus of the life-long learner is, as discussed above, both outward and inward. It is important to note that effective learners view the world intentionally. They embody an extended state of focus and find new ways to personally integrate a wide array of experiences. Kotter notes that the best life-long learners, “seem to have high standards, ambitious goals, and a real sense of mission in their lives” (2012, 191).

The act of becoming a life-long learner is not a passive experience. Individuals must intentionally peruse life-long learning and not expect it to fall into their lap. Zimmerman (2002) discusses how individuals bear the ultimate responsibility for the development of life-long learning skills. Zimmerman says, “Learning is viewed as an activity that students do for themselves in a proactive way rather than as a covert event that happens to them in reaction to teaching” (2002, 65). This self-enablement and activation is an essential component of the life-long learning experience.


Kotter, John P. 2012. Leading change. 1 edition. Boston, Mass.: Harvard Business Review Press.

Zimmerman, Barry J. 2002. “Becoming a self-regulated learner: An Overview.” Theory into Practice 41 (2): 64–70.

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