A Strategy for Keeping Up
By Peter Weddle
The American workplace has become a blur of change. There are now more knowledge creators producing more new ideas and insights than at any other time in human history. Their prodigious output is fundamentally altering what working men and women need to know to be effective on the job. And, that new and more demanding imperative has opened a new era in American society—the era of continuous learning.Historically, workers have been told that the key to career success is “lifelong learning.” The concept correctly recognized that individuals must keep up with the inexorable advancement of human knowledge or risk becoming obsolete in the workplace. Its application, however, was colored by a perception of change that is no longer accurate.
Lifelong learning was an episodic journey. Because knowledge advanced at a moderate rate in most career fields, people enrolled in training and educational programs at a similarly measured pace. Taking a course every year or so was sufficient to keep them close enough to the state of the art that they could meet their employer’s expectations on the job.Today, that’s no longer the case. Knowledge is now advancing at warp speed. For example:
- In 2008, humankind created a total of 4 terabytes—that’s 4 followed by 20 zeros—of new knowledge. There were more new facts and figures produced in that one year than in the previous 5,000 years of human history.
- If a young man or woman goes to college in a technical field today, 50 percent of what they learn in their freshman year will be obsolete by the time they reach their junior year. In effect, the half-life of their expertise is now down to less than 24 months.
This frenetic advancement of learning is already reshaping the competitive landscape in the global economy. American companies no longer contend with cheaper labor overseas; they face the challenge of smarter labor. Increasingly, employers outside the U.S. have workers with more up-to-date skills and knowledge than do employers based here.In such an environment, lifelong learning at a relatively leisurely pace inevitably weakens and potentially destroys a career. What’s the alternative? As I explore in my new book, A Multitude of Hope: A Novel About Rediscovering the American Dream, the only truly safe course is continuous learning. Regardless of a person’s profession, craft or trade, no matter how much experience they have or how senior they are in their field, they must now commit themselves to acquiring new knowledge all of the time.
Staying a Student on the Job
Continuous learning is a strategy for nonstop knowledge acquisition in the workplace. It transforms education from an external adjunct to a person’s career to an integral and constant presence within it. Personal development is now as much a worker’s “job” as the tasks they perform at their desk or on the assembly line. It is, in essence, a core competency of success in a modern economy.
This re-imagination of the educational experience requires both employers and individual workers to reset their workplace roles and responsibilities. If employers want their workers to have state of the art skills and knowledge, they must build the acquisition of such expertise into every job description. In order for that requirement to be credible, however, they must also give learning the necessary time, resources and priority for it to occur on the job and make it a factor that is explicitly evaluated during performance appraisals and salary reviews.Workers also have to be proactive in their knowledge acquisition. It’s up to them to ensure they can perform at their peak in the present and have the options they want in the future. To do that, they must supplement the training provided by their employer with additional education—online and in the classroom—that will expand as well as deepen their expertise, and they must commit to doing so incessantly.
Continuous learning is not education for education’s sake, but the forthright acknowledgement that the American economy no longer operates at an industrial era pace. It is, instead, propelled by a technology-fueled explosion of knowledge that provides only two options for working men and women. They can either keep up or they can be left behind. And, continuous learning is the only viable strategy for keeping up.
I’m Smart! Why Can’t I Get Ahead?
8 Reasons Why Opportunity Never Knocks On Your Door
by Vickie Milazzo
8 Reasons Why Opportunity Never Knocks On Your Door
by Vickie Milazzo
Wrong! If you want to achieve my brand of wicked success, it’s all on you.
There is no single factor that prevents success or one that guarantees it. When you focus on your goals, plan your steps forward and have a little more faith in yourself, you can achieve wicked success.
If you’re still stumped as to why success has eluded you, read on as I explain a few success obstacles and how to get around them.You underprice yourself. Settling for less than you’re worth is a big mistake. When I’m hiring, I actually weed out candidates who underprice themselves because I assume they won’t perform at the level I expect. In my eyes and in the eyes of many other CEOs, job candidates actually lose credibility when they underprice themselves.
You’re viewed as a commodity. Commodities are easy to obtain and easy to replace. And that’s certainly not how you want to be perceived at your job—whether you’re an employee, a leader, or an entrepreneur. Do everything you can to ensure that you aren’t seen as interchangeable or dispensable. Get in the middle of everything and bring new ideas to the table.
You downplay your accomplishments. It can be hard to toot your own horn. But if you don’t announce your own achievements, you can bet that no one else is going to do it for you. With humility, make sure that you’re keeping your name, your accomplishments, and your skill set in front of everyone.
You don’t network with big players. We tend to gravitate toward people who are similar to us. That’s fine when it comes to your friendships, but in business, one of the main reasons people don’t get ahead is that they don’t get out of their groups. If you impress someone who is more successful than you are, they’ll have a lot more influence than someone whose position is equivalent to yours.
You doubt your abilities. It’s highly unlikely that you’ll reach any goal you set for yourself if you don’t believe with your whole heart that achieving it is possible. Anytime you find yourself entertaining doubts or trying to limit what you think is possible, remind yourself of your past successes.
You need a mentor. A great way to develop the skills, habits, mindsets, etc. that you’ll need to achieve wicked success is to learn from others who have encountered and surmounted problems that are similar to your own. That being the case, surround yourself with as many mentors as possible and practice the skills they pass on to you.
You are too bogged down in the little things. In today’s world, we’re constantly sabotaged by nonproductive energy wasters. There are emails to read. Facebook statuses to update. Dishes to be washed. Files to be organized. And on and on. These are the easy, albeit often unproductive, tasks that make us feel good.
However, by majoring in minor things, we never get to our big commitments. Remember, what you engage and focus on is where you will yield results.
You aren’t going after your BIG goals. Identify your “Big Things”—those goals that connect to your passionate vision. Then choose one to schedule your day around. Start strong and you’ll experience genuine elation from achieving real goals and solving real problems.
You can’t snap your fingers and suddenly become successful. And the successful people you envy weren’t able to do that either. They worked for it. They set big goals. Wicked success can be yours too if you make the same big commitments.
Welcome to our newly launched job board: Cool Social Careers, dedicated to provide listings and information related to the brave new world of the social media professional.
We find ourselves in a rapidly evolving and changing industry in which assumed roles and responsibilities of a social media professional are not clearly understood across companies and sectors.
Besides providing the most relevant and compelling job opportunities available in today’s market, we will bring you insight and analysis to assist you as you develop and further your career.
We are always looking for contributors. If you have an interesting idea for a story or article, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now go find your dream job!