It’s late August. School busses, backpacks, and back to school ads signal the end of summer is upon us. Yep, the kids are headed back to school. In homes all across America, families will gather around the dinner table and discuss the events of the day with parents asking their children “what did you learn today?” The typical response for most kids is either a grumble, a shoulder shrug, or an apathetic “I don’t know.” Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but this is generally pretty standard parent / child dialogue. The parents then prod and interrogate until finally the child reluctantly divulges a plethora of lessons learned and ideas explored. Dinner ends, bedtime ensues, and life moves forward.
We tell children that education is important – the key to opportunity in life. We expect that our kids will learn something every day. If they are not learning, we become outraged, angered, and moved to act. Here’s a question. Why do we not hold ourselves to the same standard? Do the rules magically change once you are bestowed a degree or a diploma? Do you, as a professional, somehow believe that you’ve earned your place and you no longer need to learn?
That approach may have worked in the last century, but that world is long gone. The reality of today is that if you want opportunity, you have to learn new skills. Chances are, no one is going to force you to learn. You aren’t going to get a detention for choosing to spend your free time watching re-runs of lame television shows, spending countless hours refreshing your facebook feed, consuming political propaganda, getting lost in your email inbox, or any number of other classic time wasting activities. Nope, the punishment will be more gradual and severe than detention. It’s called irrelevance. If you want to avoid this fate, it’s up to you to do something about it.
Access to education is now global. Anyone with ambition and internet access can learn about almost anything, 24 x 7 x 365. Here’s the good news – anyone includes you. You can take courses at a local school, learn to write code and build skills online, explore big ideas, and gain access to some of the most respected sources of knowledge in the world. You can learn something new everyday… if you simply choose to do it.
How do you make sure you are learning something? Here is a suggestion. Create a simple form using Survey Monkey or Google Docswith just one question, “What did you learn today?” Then set a reminder at the end of the day to take 2 minutes to answer this one simple question. The form will track your responses in a simple spreadsheet, enabling you to follow your educational progress. Some things you learn may be simple life lessons. Others may be tangible skills. Both are valuable, and will contribute to your personal and professional growth. You can then set learning goals and easily track your progress.
In order to compete in today’s world, you had better be learning. This applies to both individuals and organizations. A little learning everyday will go a long way toward helping you be more successful and opening up new opportunities for growth. Education is one of the most effective ways to make yourself and your business more marketable. So… what are you waiting for? Go learn something.