Why You Should Always Be Charging Up Your Super-Powers

Why You Should Always Be Charging Up Your Super-Powers

I remember one of the first things I noticed when I began teaching 13 years ago was how a student would momentarily beam proudly following the self-realisation that they had just learnt something new. This is one of the best things about being a teacher. You can architect situations that provide people with short, sharp confidence power-ups.  It actually becomes quite addictive.

My daughter, aged 6, recently swam unassisted for the first time for about a meter and half before she returned to partial drowning, but for that moment after, I saw through the pool viewing gallery how happy that made her. When the lesson finished and for the first time, she asked me if we can go swimming at the weekend.

This type of moment repeats itself throughout the learning cycle on numerous different occasions and sometimes for example when a student completes a qualification, you can almost visibly see how those confidence boosts, having been so frequent during a study programme, turn into the actual growth of a person.

They have successfully travelled from A to reach a B that at one point seemed so far away and they are now a different person with a new roadmap to embark on.

This is why for so long I laid my hat at working with the 16–19 age group. As a teacher you inherit a 16-year-old on a one or two-year study programme such as an A-Level or BTEC course, and you literally witness them transition from a child to a young adult by the end of their journey. So many small learning wins, experiences (positive and negative) and the accumulation of two years commitment to a cause has changed them forever. It’s beautiful to have played some small part in that transformation.

But then often that’s where it all stops. Formally anyway. Some will go on to more education, such as college or university and continue their learning-inspired development as a person. But for many the dedication to formal learning starts to fade.

Informally, or subconsciously, we are always learning. From people, peers’ family and the environments we find ourselves in. The places we visit and the choices we make. But there’s a difference in the results of formal and informal learning. Both extremely important and relevant but a difference in how they grow a person.

Formal learning consists of learning that occurs within an organized and structured context (formal education, in-company training), and that is designed as learning. It may lead to formal recognition


Non-formal learning consists of learning embedded in planned activities that are not explicitly designated as learning, but which contain an important learning element such as vocational skills acquired at the workplace – Philippe Tissot


I possess a strong belief that everyone should always be engaged in some sort of formal learning. It doesn’t necessarily have be so formal that it is an accredited and regulated qualification (such as A level of BTEC course), but my sentiment here is that you should always commit to learning new skills and knowledge in a structured way. On the other hand, if you committed to doing so and you can get a certificate at the end of it then you might as well.

I don’t mean ‘always’ as in you should study one thing directly after the other, take breaks in-between of course. You’re not a machine. Just don’t let that break turn into years.

You get natural injections of happiness, confidence and motivation through learning. It keeps your mind young and sharp and it means you are always growing.

However, this takes time, commitment and effort. And unless you are forced to dedicate these values to the cause, such as having to be being at school or being placed on a course at work for example, many quite simply won’t, or don’t.

The Science

I’ll be concise here. When you experience a pleasure the middle part of your brain releases a chemical called dopamine. It makes you feel happy or excited. It also works in the same way when you are expecting a pleasure. It’s like your brains reward system. It has a dark side though as too much dopamine release can lead to addiction and too little dopamine release can trigger serious illness. But just the right amount, consistently, can be a powerful weapon to a person.

Amongst many other things, you get this dopamine release when you learn something new. It’s makes you feel good, increases motivation and helps to sustain focus. If you are consistently doing something that includes small wins, then you will be consistently triggering your brains reward system and releasing dopamine. Therefore, you are likely to continue doing it. Now this can work two ways. If this thing you were doing that makes you feel good and releases dopamine a lot was recreational drugs, then a problem starts to formulate. But if the thing that is causing your release of dopamine is learning something new, then you could be on a pathway of substantial growth.

Win or Learn

As an employer I receive so many CV’s where the last noted qualification achieved was years ago. It always indicates to me that there lies the moment that formal education stopped. You should always demonstrate how you’ve committed to continued learning in a job application in my opinion. It might be that you haven’t had the time or the money to purchase and/or access and complete a formal qualification recently, in which case a CPD log containing a list of less formal learning activities should be kept.

Often people make a decision not to include something you have learnt on a CV as you doubt its professional value. Well, that’s fine but if it’s all you’ve done recently add it in under a less prominent section of your CV than ‘professional qualifications’, or include the fact you are a dedicated lifelong learner in your cover letter and add that you have a CPD log to demonstrate that should anyone want to see it.

A CPD log is the written process of tracking and documenting the skills, knowledge and experience that you gain both formally and informally as you work, beyond any initial training. It’s a record of what you experience, learn and then apply.


If you’ve never heard of a CPD log or don’t have one, there’s a CPD Log template here you can use – CPD Record Template

I can’t speak for all employers but if I get a feeling of an obvious and continuous commitment to learning through a CV it goes a long way with me. It speaks about you as person and a professional. It says you are always willing to challenge yourself and are hungry to grow your mind. Personally, I like that.

My staff don’t have a choice. They won’t have a period for too long where they aren’t working towards a qualification or gaining some other occupational skill. When I started Future Step, I committed to it being a ‘learning organisation’, globally and individually. I really don’t mind taking a risk as an organisation when it comes to trying something new. You either win or you learn. There’s no lose about it.

Quickly over to Informal Learning 

Informal learning is just as important, but you have to be willing to make a conscious effort to reflect on an experience to realise the true learning potential within it. This is difficult as sometimes you’ll need to be critical of yourself which isn’t easy.

Around the time the final lockdown was finishing in the UK in April/May 2021, we decided to try and get back out there in and amongst classroom learning and we put on our first live course in almost 2 years (and ahead of the most of the competition). It completely bombed. One person booked on and we cancelled it. It cost us a lot of time and money. Covid anxiety was still relatively high at that point which may have had an impact but maybe we didn’t market it well enough or in the right places, maybe we got the pricing strategy wrong or misread the demand. ‘Maybe this, maybe that’. At the end of the day the final outcome was the same. We tried, we bombed out, we learnt, we moved on.

Continued learning is your self-motivated persistence in acquiring knowledge and competencies in order to expand your skill set and develop future opportunities – Amit Nagpal


I think fear of failure plays a small part somewhere for some of us, cost is a reasonable argument as well. But access, time, effort and ability to learn something are factors we can all overcome. We are constantly reminded we need to make time for exercise, to ensure we stay fit and healthy. Well, this is exercise. It’s exercise of the mind, and just like a muscle grows when you train it consistently enough, so does your brain and along with it so does your internal super-power.

The Changing World

If you haven’t noticed, the world is changing at a fast pace. Not only the general landscape of the world we once knew and lived in, but technology is literally taking over. You either know how to work a Smart phone and the many apps and digital processes it brings with it, or you get left behind. Coding, blockchains and digital communication is relatively standard terminology for today’s younger generation. But for the generations above them it’s not, and you’ll have to make a conscious effort to educate yourselves on what the present and the future is shaping up like.

Nowadays, there is an increasingly important basic skill in ever-changing technological universe: ability to learn and adapt to the needed new skills and training required for life – Payman Salamati


A lot of the problem is where we choose to spend our time. Your time is so precious. I’m not going to single out social media exclusively but it is one seriously consuming activity and takes up a lot of our time. There are many things to be learnt on social media but there are just as many ways to waste your time. I’m regularly having to soldier through a day more tired than I needed to be because between the hours of 22.00 – 24.00 the night before, instead of going to bed, I stayed up looking at reels on Instagram or deep in a Twitter hole reading about something that in the grand scheme of things, wasn’t worth being tired for the next day. I’m making a conscious effort not to do that at the moment and I’m getting better at it.

So, as I begin to conclude, I’ll return to the thing and thing is (or at least my thing is) you should always be actively engaged in learning and formal learning if possible. We offer courses that can literally change your life if you want them to, spark a completely new direction in the journey you are on. If you want to check some of them out, slide over to the ‘courses’ tab of the website.

But ultimately, they do cost money and for some, money is a barrier. We are all firmly strapped in together riding through economic chaos at the moment and if money is that barrier during this time, then access a free course (side note – some are rubbish so do your homework first. Send me a message and I’ll give you my opinion on them if you like). I’ll even plug two of the competition here because I believe they offer excellent free courses and more people should know about and be accessing them.

OpenLearn – https://www.open.edu/openlearn/

MOOC.org – https://www.mooc.org/

And just in case you are suspecting an ulterior motive we have no affiliation with either organisation. I very much doubt they will be in contact thanking me for diverting our own audience to them. But I’ve used them myself and know they are worthwhile free courses and ultimately, they are championing the same message that I am, so fill your boots.

With all of that said, you now have some resources to engage in formal learning if you want to.

I mentioned your internal super-power earlier.

You have this power within you to overcome and achieve anything. But you must feed it. It needs new knowledge, perspective and insight. It needs to learn. The moment you stop actively learning, your super-power stops growing. Leave it too long and the reverse-effect occurs. It returns to shadows of your inner self and hibernates. It likes to sleep so don’t give it a choice.

Your superpower can grow or hibernate forever. It’s completely up to you which it does.

Thanks for reading.



Future Step