Continuous Learning as a New Skill and Mindset
This recent article from McKinsey & Co. caught my attention: McKinsey: These are the skills you will need for the future of work.
This perfectly encapsulates what we are witnessing today.
As shifts continue to transform the way we work, how can we ‘contribute to future-proofing citizens’ skills for the world of work’?
“The research identified a set of 56 foundational skills that will benefit all citizens and showed that higher proficiency in them is already associated with a higher likelihood of employment, higher incomes, and job satisfaction.”
There is an old adage that says, “Do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life…” or something like it.
Half of me disagrees.
1. Doing what I love to do does not necessarily mean it is the most practical thing to do 100% of my working hours nor does it necessarily mean it is long-term. There is a healthy balance between enjoying work that I do and pursuing something that is out of my comfort zone in order to explore and discover new ideas or new ways of doing things. I have witnessed myself taking more risks this last year than I have ever had in my entire career. It helps that I do not have the answer because I got to exercise my creativity in approaching situations, tasks and projects. What I have learned so far is that when I do the best that I can because people ALSO benefit from it, I get fair exchange for the work that I do. Then I am able to relax and focus, instead of scramble and rush after new opportunities.
2. Collaborating and sharing my expertise opens new doors. For me and for people around me. There is always room for new work, new ideas and new projects. I have met hundreds of people during the lockdown and I continue to connect with initiatives that help bridge employment gaps.
Learning is no longer an end in itself but a critical skill that needs to be cultivated in order to succeed in any field.
3. Products and services can change over time. Our service offerings have changed to fit the changing needs of our customers.
We shifted our focus towards applying what we know to solve a current need. Offering training and development alongside other groups, not-for-profit organizations, and social enterprises.
- We shifted our priorities from acquiring more customers for ourselves to channeling work referrals to our community. Ensure that our existing customers stay healthy enough to stay afloat, if not grow, while opening doors for others who could use a break in these volatile employment environment.
- We learned to do more with less. We scaled back and revisited our already modest small business budget. What can we do without at this stage? What is nice to have but is not really a mission-critical tool? We become our own budget controllers. This is how our team gets energized and refreshed. Learning to reuse, repurpose and recycle what we already have and know.
Sometimes, operating with the bare essentials is a test not just of survival but of our resilience and bond as a team who’s got each other’s backs.
4. Growth and change could mean discomfort, but it could also mean finding meaning and purpose for what we do–enough to break through. An average seed takes 2-3 weeks to germinate given the right conditions of oxygen, water and temperature. I use this metaphor because this is how it felt for our team in March of 2020. We felt like we were being thrown out of our game, watching the clock and waiting to be hung and left high and dry. What it came down to is, we figured out there is enough air (room to breathe), just the right amount of water (projects) and the right temperature (need/demand) for what we do. We just had to be comfortable in a new environment (pot of soil) and be open to other hands to nurture us. We allowed others to help us and we in turn, offered what we can.
5. Experience is still the best teacher. This is the ethos of what we do now. To teach others to be open to experiencing new technology and new ways of thinking (in business, in job-hunting and in life). Experience uncertainty with full a complete awareness of the spectrum of emotions. Every emotion is valid. And then we learn to respond, adjust, adapt and prepare. The cycle is evolving. May we evolve upward, onward and forward.
My daily routine hasn’t changed much. I have been working from anywhere for the last 10 years. Being confined indoors isn’t something new. But my experience of my day-to-day has changed. I get to appreciate the sunrise and the sunset, give myself permission to take 15 minute breaks, take a nap when I need to. There is a surge in productivity and creativity when I do. I am able to share this with my growing virtual community, friends and family alike. I am better for it.
I realize that learning happens everyday if we are open to it. Most of the time it does not require a badge or a certificate to practice what we learn. May your learning investments and little lessons from today serve your bigger picture. You are a unique masterpiece with a gift to offer the world. A seed today can be a spore tomorrow and an oak tree one day. The learning habit is yours to build. I hope you start the journey with a smile, gratitude and excitement in your heart.