Constant skill upgrade

The radical changes in the work world, which are very real today, are going to require constant upgrades to our skills.

The 9-10-11 edition of The Economist had a series of articles on the changing work environment. One article in particular, My big fat career, discusses the changes already underway.

One particular author, Lynda Gratton from the London Business School, suggests you will need to acquire a new skill or expertise every few years.  Continuous learning in other words.

She expands on her ideas in “The Shift: The Future of Work is Already Here”.  The book is available here at Amazon, however be forewarned there is a one to three month delay in delivery of the book.  I have it on my want list, so will wait patiently for it to get in stock.

Her description is that people will have to invest in their own social capital.  She identifies three areas to concentrate, summarized by The Economist as:

  • First, they need to build themselves a “posse”, a small group of up to 15 people they can turn to when the going gets rough, says Ms Gratton. They should have some expertise in common, have built up trust in each other and be able to work effectively together.
  • Second, they need a “big-ideas crowd” who can keep them mentally fresh.
  • Third, they need a “regenerative community” to maintain their emotional capital, meaning family and friends in the real world “with whom you laugh, share a meal, tell stories and relax”.

My thoughts:

It is your job to maintain your skills. Your job. Not your boss. Not the company. Not the government. Yours.

If you don’t want to get left behind you need to transition to continuous learning.  Always pick up new skills.  Pay lots of attention to what’s going on around you.  That means doing a lot of reading and listening and thinking. 

Go to brain stretching conferences where you can hear brain stretching speakers.

 There are a wonderful number of insightful authors that will stretch your brain. I heartily suggest getting a hold of anything by Seth Godin and then working your way through all his books.

Find a source, or half a dozen, for good book reviews.  Merely reading several decent summaries of a book every week refreshes your brain, exposes you to a range of topics and authors over time, and might identify a book that would have a huge payoff for you.

Lots of other stretching ideas in The Economist’s article. Check it out.

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