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The Learning Journey

by Lorna Muise Alberta Health Services | November 23 2017

Do you encourage new things in your workplace? Do you seek to learn and refine skills throughout the school year? My team manager recently shared the following story about the importance of being a continual learner:

Kano Jigoro was the father of Judo and an expert in the sport. Before his death he had one request of his students, “Bury me in my white belt.” His dying wish was to be remembered as a learner, not as a black belt master.

I personally loved the story—it made me reflect and ask myself if I too am a learner. I answered with a solid YES!

Learning Opens Our Mindsets

When we seek to learn from others, we’re forced to put aside judgements. I refined this famous Stephen Covey saying, “Seek first to understand then to be understood,” for my professional outlook to simply, “Seek first to understand.” When we act from a position of curiosity, we give ourselves the opportunity to learn and grow. When approaching a conflict with curiosity, we’re more likely to land in a place of mutual understanding and resolution. Curiosity strengthens people and teams while judgement kills ideas, energy and creativity. Think about how you work through ideas and planning for your own workplace health and wellness. Does this concept come into play as you brainstorm with your team?

Healthy Patterns for the Mind

I had the pleasure of participating in the Healthy Active School Symposium in Red Deer this past October. People from four different jurisdictions and three different organizations met during a session titled Café Conversations, in which we explored growth versus fixed mindsets. Session presenter, Ken King—coach of the Red Deer College Queens Basketball Team and owner of Performance Connection—shared the following chart:


Fixed mindset

Growth mindset

Skills and abilities

Set—you have what you have

Can be grown and developed

Main concern

Not looking bad

Learning, growing, inspiring


Negative—must not be good

Totally necessary—the key


Give up or check out

Persevere—keep working


Negative—makes you look bad

Positive—help you grow


It’s useless, gets defensive

Appreciate it—use it

Through the interactive session my “aha” moment came when Ken explained that with a fixed mindset we can get stuck in a pattern of doing. When we have a growth mindset, we have a pattern of learning, growing and inspiring. Think about it: how often do you put your brain on cruise control instead of thoughtfully working through a problem? How can you minimize these times in order to be mindfully engaged more often? I’m not suggesting that we have to be learning, growing and/or inspiring all the time—we also need down time! My question is, when you need to be engaged, are you?

Create Workplace Aha Moments 

I’d like to challenge all of you to consider whether you’re in a fixed or growth mindset and apply some of these thoughts from the chart above when it comes to collaborating on or developing your wellness initiatives and projects. Are there ways you and your team can open up your conversations, observe ways to make your initiatives more dynamic and in-tune with what your workplace needs? I’d love to hear how you’re working to ensure your goals align with what your teammates are seeking. Reply in the comments below and may we all enjoy the privilege of learning and growing with our colleagues, friends and family!

Lorna Muise

As a school health promotion coordinator with Alberta Health Services and a long term passion for health promotion, Lorna is one of Alberta’s central zone superheroes! Her superpower? Lorna can mimic the sound of a water drop. We’ve yet to determine the benefits of this talent but are sure they are widespread and amazing.