In Defense of Learning

One of my favorite geniuses, Seth Godin, writes a daily post and he always challenges my brain to expand. Today, he wrote about opportunity cost.

And I cannot get this quote out of my head…

If you learn a new skill, you own it forever

It got me thinking about all of the opportunities I have had to learn something new. These gems have come in all shapes and sizes over the past twenty years. The size of the organization often did not matter and in many ways the project I was asked to take on did not fall into my job description.

But I have always been a gold star kind of student. And I love saying “YES”. I have walked out of many a room having absolutely no idea how I was going to run a golf tournament, teach an entire firm a project management solution, create a spreadsheet within a spreadsheet, oversee database operations… but I figured it out.

These days those funny little skill sets I never expected to need or learn pop up in the funniest places. When someone says “can you”… I can often say yes with actual experience. And when I don’t know how, I know I can figure it out. And if I can’t figure it out… I can find someone who knows someone. Or at least a YouTube video to teach me how to make it happen.

Once we hit our stride, it is so easy to think we know enough. As long as we keep up with trends and hit a conference once in a while – we are all good. But imagine what you are leaving behind by not learning. By not picking up the book or taking the class or being forced to pick up a new skill with the help of Mr. Google.

Without lifelong learning I argue we become stale, that we don’t continue to challenge ourselves beyond our comfort zones. To me that is so sad. When we let learning pass us by, we are missing out! Lifelong learning is not something I naturally gravitated to. But I would NOT give up one of those adventures. (Well maybe the time I had to hand edit a report I’d never worked on before when I really wanted to go to a baseball game.)

Excuses are so easy, but taking the time to learn means the NEXT time someone asks – saying yes is something you can do with confidence.

I am forever thankful to those managers who asked me to try. And to those who let me fail, pick myself up, and try again.

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