Today after two weeks of reading, I finished Secrets of a buccaneer-scholar from James Marcus Bach. I was amazed on how he describes my attitude towards learning. Over the course of the last ten years I had always believed in more traditional ways to get educated. Well, when looking back at the education I got in school and the education I got at the university, and reflecting it over the stuff I need now on my day-to-day work, there is little that I have learned in those more traditional systems that help me now. Maybe ten percent of it does any service to me today. The remainder I learned myself ever since I started to work at a software company as a software tester – right when I didn’t know anything about testing software and how complex that field even is. This passion for learning has always driven myself and helped me get further ahead. When looking at my colleagues I was amazed that I seemed to be the only one, who was practicing self-education besides their day job. A key attitude I have built upon early on is the attitude for life-long learning – and I live it.
Now, reflecting back on the last four weekend of Weekend Testing in Europe, I noticed a pattern and a relationship to self-education – or buccaneer-scholarship how James calls it. Remembering back on our first session we had an online image processing tool and were asked to test it. There were two or three people who had experience with image manipulation, and the remaining three or four did not know anything about it. Since the mission was provided at the start of the session, this meant that no one really knew what was going to happen to prepare. Since no one dropped out of the session either, all participants were very, very eager to learn something new.
Indeed, when you face a situation which you don’t know anything about, some may react with fear about it. James taught me from his book the most valuable lesson: A buccaneer-scholar is not afraid of new situations. Even when you just now a tiny little piece of information about the product you’re going to test, or the project you’re asked to work upon, your deliberate learning attitude can and will help you. There is no big impediment to get to know something new. Maybe it gets you out of your comfort-zone, but imagine all the stuff you will know in addition to now. You will be able to make associative connections to stuff you already know. This is how your brain works. By making new connections, you may also reflect on stuff you already know and learn new things about that, either.
Deliberate learning can help you become used to learning as a competitive advantage. I see this happening for myself, I see it happening for James Bach (take a look on the videos on his buccaneer-scholar site), and I know that it may very well work for you as well.