Learning something new gets our attention. It reminds us we have skills to build on,
dormant interests ready for the light, and talents (latent or otherwise) screaming for an outlet.
It you want to build self-confidence and give your career trajectory a shot in the glutes, find something unrelated to your job and learn it.
Embrace the counterintuitive.
We’re told at work that we need to develop our skills and expand job knowledge. We’re scheduled for training classes, assigned reading, and sometimes told to find a mentor.
We do all that, work hard to master tasks, and wonder why we don’t feel like we’re really growing.
The sad fact is that most employee development programs aren’t geared to releasing our creative energies, raising self-awareness, or expanding the reach of our experiences.
Expansive growth comes from realizing more about ourselves by learning something new, with all the discovery and surprise it brings.
Learning opens gates of knowledge, skill, and awareness. It’s liberating. You decide and commit to what you want to learn, how, and when. Every piece of it reveals something important to you and about you:
- Can I learn this new information or skill? Do have the aptitude?
- Do I like doing what it takes to learn it?
- Is it what I thought it was before I got started? Do I want to stick with it?
- I never thought I could learn about or do this.
- I wonder where this new knowledge might take me.
- I’m meeting new and interesting people who share my interests.
- I’m developing transferable skills and experiences, building self-confidence.
Each of us brings to our jobs creativity, insight, and connections that complement the performance skills our work requires. To enrich that, we need to keep learning and exposing ourselves to worlds outside of work.
Learning is a forever part of our lives if we want it to be. If you’ve been a bit lax, there’s no time like the present to restart your learning engines.
It’s often easier to say, Just do it, than to act. We often feel awkward about committing to a direction when it’s not what our friends or family expect from us.
You can’t let the opinion of others get in your way. After all, learning is about exploring. It’s not like you’re quitting your job to join the circus. You’re just deciding to learn about or how to do something new, something you’re curious about, have always dreamed of trying, or something that takes you out of your comfort zone.
Hey, if you don’t like it, just move on to something else. The key is to pursue something that makes you feel like you’ve added a new component to all that is you.
Learning is about head and heart. It adds insight, experience, connections and even uniqueness. In terms of your career, you’re differentiating yourself, making yourself more interesting, revealing yourself as creative, adventuresome, inventive, and multidimensional.
If you’re still a bit fuzzy about the possibilities, here’s a wildly ranging list of new things to learn that might spark your imagination. Consider learning how to:
- Play the accordion
- Use power tools
- Show cats/train dogs
- Grow orchids
- Fossil hunt
- Write a memoir
- Raise bees/make honey
- Become a storyteller
- Make sushi
- Learn a foreign or computer language
Each one of these ideas is an opportunity to build one or more career-essential skill outside of your job like: attention to detail, dependability, communication, safety, technical know-how, process management, planning, organizing, and risk-taking. There’s nothing better than growing your skills doing something fun.
Stay committed. Keep reaching.
When I sign copies of my book, Business Fitness, this is my standard inscription: Stay committed. Keep reaching. That’s what your commitment to learning helps you do. Your career is a product of your efforts to expand yourself and to capitalize on all that you bring to your job. Learning is a faithful friend. Partner up and enjoy the rewards.