Keep Learning: The Difference Between Dinosaurs and Linchpins

Anywhere I’ve worked, I feel like all of a sudden I become the in-house I.T. guy. I’m the person people run to when the internet is down or when the printer stops working. I install all the programs on computers and I update the operating systems.

But one thing you should know about me is that I am not a computer whiz. I didn’t take any technology-related course in college. When my gadgets have problems, I prefer to just buy a new one. And when I was in high school, my least favourite lesson was Computer Science.

So why do I know how to set up DNS settings, find the right software and apps for certain functions and restore websites that go down? I’ll let you into my secret: It’s because I know how to use Google.

Nowadays when people send me messages on Facebook about how to fix their Macbook, I first ask them “did you Google it?”

In these times, things go obsolete really fast. It’s been said that most of today’s college textbooks will have large portions that will be considered outdated by the time a student gets from their first to last year. And in today’s fast-paced, fast-changing world, we need to keep learning.

Learning Never Stops

Professionals are always trying to find ways to stay relevant and indispensable in the workplace. We’re hungry to find ways to avoid getting laid-off or fired. Here’s one failsafe way to remain a highly valued linchpin- keep learning. And never stop! Some of the most in-demand professionals are people who are quick to pick up a new book, enrol in a seminar or ready to find a coach or mentor. The learning must never stop for us.

It’s sad when young professionals come to me after my seminars telling me how hard it is to work with bosses that won’t listen. They shut down any opinions other people in the team may have because they have a PhD at the end of their name. But if they need to print something, they have to ask a younger associate in the office to do it because they don’t know how. These people are a classic example of people who stop learning. They become obsolete in the workplace.

Sometimes we think that just because we’re done with school, we’ve learned all there is to it. But some of the most successful people are those who refuse to make the end of their education the end of their learning.

Classic or Jurassic?

I’ve sat down with people in their late fifties who get laid off from their jobs. These men and women have a hard time reapplying for work. It’s sad to watch their state. Most of them lose their feeling of self-worth, and that breaks my heart. The one advice that I give to those who are willing to learn is to teach them to pick up a new skill. I am always amazed to see people in their senior years who start taking up jobs in Digital Marketing or Social Media. Those kinds of people are those that stay relevant, employable and valuable to the workplace.

But of course, there will be the naysayers. They like to talk about how it’s the fault of younger workers for asking for lower wages or of time for making them old. But never will you hear an unteachable and unemployed person admit that they lost their unemployability because they simply stopped learning.

Some might argue that people stick to their guns because they want to remain “classic” and true to the old times. They bask in the glory days and like to talk about how things were when they were young. I love history and I take time to learn from it. But if there’s one lesson history always teaches me is that past glory days will remain in the past if we refuse to grow and evolve with the times. There is a very fine line between remaining classic and becoming Jurassic.

Whatever you do, do not stop learning new things. Keep growing in your field. Keep up with the technology, the changes, the innovations. If you don’t, you will cease to be relevant and you will lose your competitive edge.

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