The concept of Lifelong Learning has been around for a long time now ... not only is it documented in Wikipedia, but people talked about it when I went to school (when Moby Dick was a guppy!). It should not be a new concept to anyone and there are so many reasons why it is essential that if you do not subscribe to the concept then you are a dinosaur!
I can remember being told that in the modern world (late 2oth early 21st century) we would all experience several career changes in our lifetimes. I have been an aircraft mechanic, a computer programmer, a customer support person, a sales person, a sales manager and had several senior management roles. I don't think I am atypical.
"The object of education is to prepare the young to educate themselves throughout their lives"
Robert Maynard Hutchins
The pace of change in the world today is phenomenal! Raymond Kurzweil is a leading author in this field and has written numerous books and articles on the subject of the accelerating pace of change. We only need to look around in our own lifetimes at men on the moon, computers (even the size of computers), automobiles or any other technological invention to see how far they have come in just a few years.
So ... if we agree that we are likely going to change career sometime "soon", and that our world is changing around us as we speak ... then surely we need to do something to remain current! I think it is absolutely unreasonable to expect to be relevant if you are not prepared to invest in yourself.
Here are some of Kevin's theories on the subject:
- School gives you a grounding in knowledge and is the place where ideally you should learn how to learn!
- Everybody should develop the habit of reading ... if you do not read the you cannot effectively keep up! I don't care what you read as long as it is "real" ... newspapers, novels, biographies, fiction or fact. Relevant material will have a bigger impact but reading keeps the brain alive!
- Everybody should set aside time for personal development every year ... a specific amount of time dedicated to learning a new skill, or at minimum updating a skill.
- If all you ever do is stay focused on your own profession or business area then you are missing a huge opportunity. We can all apply principles from other businesses, industries and professions to our own worlds.
If you do not invest in yourself, you become less relevant because other people pass you by, you are not even keeping up with the basics ... and you will be replaced.
In my world Lifelong learning is not a "nice to have" it is a necessity!