Did you know that anybody can enhance their life, and thus their career, by improving some simple, basic skills? Once you have a handle on these skills, there’s no telling what can happen but you have to apply them consistently: everybody needs to learn how to learn and learn how to teach.
Learn How To Learn
Learning is essentially acknowledging that you don’t know everything and being open to expanding your horizons.
If you are always reading a novel, try reading some non-fiction regularly.
If you never do fiction, start with some short stories and work up.
Take a class in something that appeals and intimidates you.
Play games on your phone or computer that are not in your comfort zone, like words for a math whiz and numbers for the linguist.
Learn how to use your hands or your body a different way, like dancing or knitting or soccer or anything fun.
I bet you thought I’d be telling you to work on a career skill, and that certainly is a good idea. But for many of us, we need to start developing the ability to learn first. When you start with what you like and stretch your mind a little bit, you are learning how to learn.
Learn How To Teach
Teaching is not being a windbag standing in front of suffering students and talking to hear themselves. Good teachers listen to their students and try to understand how they perceive things so the facts being communicated get through to the brain. A teacher needs to have a good grasp of the subject in order to explain it effectively.
Offer to explain something you are good at to a friend who wants to know how.
Show a newbie some tips about a skill you have.
Write instructions just to see if they make sense when you follow them.
Improve your writing skills so you can communicate better.
Rewrite things that are confusing to make the meaning clearer.
Research the styles of learning and figure out how to explain to each style.
The truth is that we all teach, whether we realize it or not. The goal is to be a teacher of good, helpful things who passes on all you have learned. When a person continually is learning, and is also continually sharing their knowledge, it completes the circle of intelligent growth. It also keeps you in a positive stance for whatever your career is doing and enhances any job.
“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”
I tell my kids this all the time–the more you read, the smarter you’ll be, the places you’ll go, the people you’ll see. OK, so that’s my own little Dr. Seuss version of getting them interested in reading. Books and other reading material feed your intellect and affect the way you look at life. One recent buzz around Facebook was the challenge to list the ten books that have changed the way you look at life, right off the top of your head. Not classic books, or intellectual books, just the books you read that somehow lingered in your life. I made my list and it was super hard to keep it at ten. Librarians will tell you that people going through a crisis will often ask for books about someone going through a crisis because it helps to see how others cope with challenges.
In your career, reading a wide range of topics will give you a wide range of perspective on the way people think and strategies you can use for your advancement. It’s like a balanced diet. You need stuff from every food group in order to be healthy and you need to read both fiction and non-fiction to have a healthy view of the world. There is a difference in quality when it comes to what you read. Just as there is a difference in quality of food; you will start to see that difference as your reading variety changes.
Reading anything regularly increases your ability to comprehend and articulate ideas. If what you read is well-written, it helps you develop a sense of spelling and grammar, which gives you a professional edge in your communication.
If you’re unemployed, I’d say it’s a good idea to read something work/career related every day. This is easy to do by subscribing to a few blogs, but working through a book is important. Blogs and websites like those on the Job Resources Page are carefully concentrated chunks of information like an energy bar; a book is like a banquet that has been planned and prepared by a chef.
Dr. Seuss is right: the more you learn, the more places you’ll go. Your career will be enhanced by reading regularly.
Employers like to hire people who keep their skills up to date. The best way to do this is to become a life-long learner. The Education resume section shouldn’t just begin and end with your university degrees. Keep on learning. Take classes, view webinars, participate in association chat and conference sessions, anything that will increase your knowledge and expertise in life and your job. There are a variety of places to look for life-long learning opportunities. You can start with Continuing Education through your professional association or college. Many PBS television stations carry some form of adult learning classes. Take the seminars that are offered through your job. Checkout online videos or webinars that showcase college lectures. Search for higher education institutions that allow you to take online classes. Some classes are free while others have a charge for earning credit. Scan your local paper for museums, institutes and other public places that offer classes. Classes for credit are good because you are tested and held accountable to learn what is being taught. But even classes that do not offer credit or that are not taken for credit will still add to your skill sets and knowledge base. These learning opportunities make you more valuable to employers. Employers are so interested in finding life-long learners as employees that some companies will offer educational opportunities to their employees on a regular basis. It may be in the form of company-sponsored computer classes, tuition reimbursement or even professional conferences. While you may be required to make a presentation on what you learned when you return from a conference, the knowledge gained and the increased skill sets on your resume may be worth it.
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