Cultivating Love of Learning: A Lesson From Bill Gates

A few weeks ago, Bill Gates hosted an Ask-Me-Anything (AMA) event at Reddit. While there were many questions asked and answered, here I’d like to focus on just one of them:

Q: What do you do for fun? I find it hard to fathom how someone like you can just disconnect. Disconnect from the emails, calls, the media. All of it. What would be your definition of a chill and fun day?

A: I love playing tennis. I am an avid bridge player (a card game if you have not heard of it – it was more popular in the past!). I like to tour interesting things with my kids like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile Silos (Arizona),… I read a lot and watch courses (online or the Learning Company)…

The part I highlighted above states that he loves to read and to watch courses. But what kind of books does he read? To give you an idea, here is a page that showcases them. The question, remember, was about what he does for fun. But, to be honest, I don’t think many people will consider the books on that page fun. As for watching courses… well, I guess it’s quite obvious. 🙂

So how can Gates consider those activities fun while many people don’t?

The answer, I believe, lies in an important trait he has that many people lack. The trait is a love of learning. In fact, I can’t think of any other explanation of how someone could consider such activities fun unless the person loves to learn.

There is a big difference between those who love to learn and those who don’t. Those who love to learn will consider activities that widen their perspective (such as reading books) fun. Those who don’t, on the other hand, will consider those activities boring. Those are very different ways of viewing the same activities.

This difference can manifest into a big gap between the two groups in the long run. Those who love to learn will absorb new knowledge like a sponge, while those who don’t will actually avoid opportunities to learn. Can you guess which ones are more likely to achieve their full potential?

Love of learning, I believe, is an essential trait to have. We need to have it. It’s even more true given the fast-changing world we live in now. Those who love to learn are the ones who will be able to adapt and thrive. The reason is simple: they are the ones who enjoy learning new things.

But one question remains: how can we have this trait? How can we love to learn?

As with many other things in life, the main thing is to find the motivation. If you can find it, everything else will fall into place. But if you can’t, it will be hard to get anything going.

From my experience, here is a good way to find the motivation:

Have a strong desire to get the most out of your life

Simple, isn’t it? But think about it. If you have this desire, the love of learning will naturally follow. Why? Because to fulfill the desire you will need to achieve your full potential. And to do that, you need to constantly learn. That’s why if the desire is strong enough, learning will become something you love.

So what do you think? How do you cultivate your love of learning?

Photo by istolethetv


  1. Wonderful article, Donald. My love of learning has really led me to so many new opportunities this month and I really don’t know how I got here. I suppose it’s because I portray this young aura of wanting to learn and conquer the world at a young age.

    People can tell through my excitement when I talk that I LOVE learning. I emphasize that the things I’m going through now are great learning opportunities and I’m always hungry for more.

  2. Bill Gates is a great man that gives a lot for humanity,and this is my favorite Bill Gates quote “I failed in some subjects in exam, but my friend passed in all. Now he is an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner of Microsoft.”
    Thank you so much for this great article.

  3. Hi Donald

    Your article got me thinking about developing a love of learning. While a strong desire to get the most out of your life fuels the flame of learning, the spark that ignites it, I believe, is curiousity.

    When you’re curious, you want to know, and if there’s a gap in your knowledge, you fill it with learning.

    Asking questions, not accepting things at face value and wanting to know what’s beneath the surface of things are all ways of developing our love of learning.

  4. This Article really motivates me to keep learning in every field that I found interesting. Sometimes you need to read something that you allready now to move further again. Thanks

  5. Not just a big difference, a massive difference! Being known as a knowledgeable is I think a wonderful title to have bestowed upon you. Being able to talk about the Crimean war which you just learnt about gives you a great conversation tool, you’re right on with this topic!

    Personally I do love to learn, in fact I just finished reading/memorizing material on the heart and its functions. A big part of it for me is the ‘wow’ factor, for instance trying to fathom the age of the universe or the size of our galaxy, that for me is a great incentive to learn, it keeps me wanting more. It keeps me reading, watching, listening and paying attention to the world.

    Thanks for the inspiring post, have an epic day!

    – Nick

    • Nick, I like the term you use: the ‘wow’ factor. That describes my experiences as well. I do feel the excitement of knowing an aspect of the world (or the universe) that I haven’t known before.

  6. Thank you Donald for sharing this beautiful article about love of learning. It’s absolutely true and I personally follow this as learning from everything motivates me to learn further. The more I learn, the less I know.

  7. I think it comes down needing to learn how to learn first. Often we’re pick up bad habits and a dislike of learning through education and never get the hang of it later in life. Learning is about exploring new things, challenging ourselves but not about grades and exams.

  8. I believe everybody loves learning, but we all learn differently, some like to learn by reading or watching others like/love to learn by doing things.

  9. When I started a new skill as an entrepreneur, it forced me to learn a lot. My life is so interesting and exciting now that I learn new things almost every week.
    Thanks for sharing this post. I looked at what Bill Gates reads and I think the books are very interesting.

  10. I agree, the love of learning is essential to success. I believe that you should never stop learning. As soon as you stop learning, you stagnate while the rest of the world continues on. My motivation is that I like knowing and understanding things — so naturally, I want to learn more!

  11. Learning to Love Learning Is Vital to Our Ongoing Spiritual and Personal Development. Bill was have a very lucky combination of circumstances but it was’t the sole cause of his success. Love to learning and persistence was another.

  12. Hi Donald,

    A well written provocation!

    I think the love of learning, and required motivation that follows, really begins when we start to love ourselves.

    For in loving ourselves we start to see the importance of the role we play in life – to be generous in our efforts to help others to be their best.

    In seeing this we recognize that we need to be intentional about our own development first and foremost.

    I’m still learning to love my self, and in the process, developing an increased love for learning!

    Thanks for sharing.

  13. I agree that learning to love or enjoy learning is a big key to becoming successful. I need to work on this 😉

  14. All these are at the back of oor mind.We never realise it.thanks for awakening the hunger within me to give my best.Really all of them need to love learning.

  15. I love to learn by simple researching things online that I am interested in. One of my hobbies right now is to create a website on these different interests. Not only am I learning about these new things, I am generating some extra income and sharing that information with others. Win-win if you ask me. 😉

  16. Love what you do and do what you love

  17. Inspiring – thank you for this.

  18. But in this small brain we have to store sooo many things…..especially if one is a student….so much has to go inside the mind …and we tend to forget so many things…sometimes unconsciously..! is there a way to improve memory power?

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