Applied Learning

Nora Guerrera
3 min readMar 8, 2024

Learning to learn and how to apply a learning mindset in various situations

This is Part 3 of our 5-part series on Creative Problem Solving from graphic designer, brand strategist, and innovation consultant turned EMT, Andrew Lebowitz.

Learning is something we all do even when we’re not thinking about it. We learn while we play games, solve puzzles, work on hobbies, or even just watching TV. At the end of the day, learning “is a process that results in a change in knowledge or behavior as a result of experience.”1

Learning is the ability to apply past experiences to future ones.

When I talk about “applied learning” I am referring not only to the ability to apply past experiences, but also to the need to learn in a given moment to apply new knowledge to a situation.

For example, what happens when you are working on a problem and it requires a new skill, method, or even way of thinking? How do you go about intentionally learning for a particular challenge?

The following are five mindsets that are critical to deploy when you have to learn:

1. Empathy
Learning comes from experience and perspective. Empathy allows us to try on others’ experiences and perspectives for ourselves. In a learning sense, empathy gives us the ability to enter into different headspaces to imagine different ways of being.

2. Curiosity
They say curiosity killed the cat, but curiosity sent us to the moon, to the heights of Everest, and to discover cures and treatments for any number of deadly diseases Curiosity is essential to our survival and when well applied can lead to deeper understanding.

3. Experimentation
Experimentation is very intentional and deliberate trial and error. It allows us to control our scenarios to learn in safe environments.

4. Awareness
There’s a reason we call it paying attention. Because once you cash in your attention to one thing, you can’t cash it in on anything else. Awareness is about controlling our attention.

5. Failure
It is impossible to learn anything new and not make a mistake. Sometimes we can manage failure, sometimes we have to make do with suboptimal outcomes and try to apply them in the future.

Design Thinking for All is a reader-supported publication. To receive all of our new posts plus additional perks and benefits, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.

Thought Starters

  • Can you remember a time when you were required to learn to complete a task?
  • How do you learn best? Why do you think that style works best for you?

Related Resources and References:

Andrew is a graphic designer, brand strategist, and innovation consultant turned EMT. Now, he is applying his own creativity to help those in their moments of greatest need.

If you are interested in discussing or developing your creative problem skills further, Andrew is available for training, coaching, and consulting for individuals and teams. You can message him directly here:



Nora Guerrera

Strategist, Leader, Coach, Teacher. I help clients explore, create and use digital to bring game-changing experiences to their businesses and their customers.