School will be starting for my kids in just a couple of days. On the ride home or at the dinner table, I will repeat my standard conversation starter…“tell me what you learned today”.
I don’t ask if they learned. The expectation is a commitment to learn every day, and that goes for me too.
A while ago I was at lunch with a friend who was nearly in a panic. He had been laid off and did not know what he was going to do because he was a niche specialist. He wrote machine level code for a microprocessor, and he was sure he would not be able to find another job.
I tried to reassure him that there are plenty of other device manufacturers who must use the same chip and with his expertise and experience, it would not be long at all until he was with a new company.
Not so fast.
The chip had been made obsolete 12 years prior. His employer had purchased thousands of chips so they could service existing equipment and have plenty of time to design a replacement device and get it to market. Now that they were nearing the end of the supply of chips and the new machine was ready, they were cutting over.
The chips were obsolete and so were my friend’s skills.
That was the moment I knew lifelong learning mattered more than I ever imagined. He had 12 years to get ready for the change by learning a new skill, but there he was…shocked at what was happening and terrified about what’s next. I am so thankful I was able to learn from his experience.
Here is the challenge: Find something that matters to your career and dedicate time to learning about it every day. When you have mastered it, find something else, and something else, and something else.
Tip: If you don’t know what matters to your career, jump on Monster.com and do a job search. Review 5 or 10 job descriptions and write down every skill listed. When you see a skill in common between them you have your first learning objective.
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