I was the classic under-achiever back in high school skimming by with the least amount of effort, and being happy just passing. Needless to say, when I graduated, trying to get into college was a challenge. Luckily for me, there was a program at North Carolina State University that was designed for people who wanted to take a couple of classes here and there, but did not require these individuals to be enrolled in a specific program, thereby being officially admitted into the college as an undergraduate. I cannot remember the exact title of the program, but it was advertised for “life-long learners”. I was eventually able to get enough credits to transfer into the college as a full time undergraduate, and somewhere along the way, I developed a study habit and a dedication to keep learning.
I feel it is extremely important for individuals to adopt a life-long learning practice. It does not necessarily need to be official classes at a college or training school, but simply adopting a philosophy of learning. Individuals need to not be content with what they currently know, but strive to keep moving. For people to keep challenging their minds and levels of knowledge, this will enable them to keep open minds, to learn new things, and to grow as humans. Not all subjects are interesting, but by experimenting and learning more, people can find that something that was originally very dry to them, can actually be interesting. Take me for example. Over the years, I have been in the computer field. I am very interested in technology, which is ever changing. For me, the thought of business subjects was about as boring as watching the grass grow. However, in efforts to make my expertise more broad and to open up more doors of opportunity, I started to read more, and eventually completed an MBA degree from Colorado State. In the process, I have gained much more marketable skills than I otherwise would have gained, and have come to admire and have a keen interest in business theory.
Remaining level is not a good idea. Over the last few years, businesses have downsized and many people have suddenly found themselves out of work. Many of these individuals were caught off guard and needed to quickly build up marketable skills. For people unemployed, it is very important to update skills, or possible retrain for a shift in career paths just to stay ahead of competition for a limited number of jobs. For those who are fortunate enough to have a job, it is equally important to keep learning and evolving. While someone may be employed, and it may even be a good job as a stable company, continuing to learn is still important. Continuous learning of skills, both directly related to a job and personal interest, will be able to open up more opportunity for someone currently employed. Take me for example. I have over 12 years of computer IT experience, but now have some business management skills. While those skills may not directly affect my ability to my job as it is written in the job description, it does offer a broader level which adds more perspective.
The key point to take away is simply this. If you are employed, keep skills current and add new skills whenever the possibly arises. This will keep you one step ahead in the organization, and offer an ability to rebound if the company experiences a bad stretch and downsizes. Don’t assume everything will be fine, and for someone who is continuously learning and adding skills, if they are let go, these skills will allow for a quicker recovery and would help finding a new job with another organization.