Learning a marketable skill that will put you on a new career path is important for any person who wants upward mobility in life. The internet has brought about massive change that makes learning a commodity. I wrote a brief article on my thoughts about the Education Economy back in 2012 when I was just beginning to see how this shift would be epic and bring about massive change in the way we learn and how people would eventually pursue a career. It is now 4 years after that initial post and we have only seen an uptick in this trend. Learning & the Education industry is still in flux & there are many changes to come. Not only in the way we learn but also in the way we pursue skills for careers. In my estimation, colleges, in their current form, will likely be completely irrelevant or different within 10 years.
With all of that said, i’d like to direct your attention to self-directed learning. This is the type of learning that many who i encounter are regularly attempting. I am among the group of self-directed learners. The difference between self-directed learning and/ or instructor directed learning is night and day. One of the things that hinders each of us in our ability to scale new heights in any industry is the lack of proper knowledge or application of the knowledge we have. Much of that also falls upon having the ability to ask the correct questions. If we don’t know the actual questions we need to ask then all of our research can take us in a direction we don’t want to go in. Asking the wrong questions can even lead us to a dead end which only means more time wasted.
When, through our own personal research and possibly the direction of good questions, we actually are set upon the right path we need to take, many never actually get to the place where they can translate what they have learned into a marketable skill. Why is that the case? I have met many small business owners who were self-directed learners and growing in a certain skill, many of those people never actively translated their learning into a marketable skill. After giving this a bit of thought I have come up with a few reasons that this could be possible.
They Underestimate Necessary Effort To Learn The Skill & Enter The Market
The excitement of a new endeavor will always brings with it a rush of adrenaline and release endorphins that satisfy the brain. For a new learner, seeing the vision of what is possible once the gap of understanding a certain technology has been filled makes for great talk and even more giddy feelings. I am one who revels in new technology so this is all too familiar to me. What is not always evident when a new technology is demonstrated are the long nights of training and experimentation that the person who actually created the implementation of the technology invested. The process of actually learning & mastering the fundamentals of any technology then moving on to more intermediate & advanced implementations is not always properly estimated. Often times, the estimation of the amount of time and training / experimentation with the technology need to be multiplied by ten. One sales trainer named Grant Cardone says we should 10X any expectations or goals we set. This means that when you begin to set off in your path of learning these new technologies you should set your expectation to be TEN times what you estimate the true time you need to invest into learning this technology. When you have learned or created your basic implementation of the technology & are ready to enter the market, you should expect that it will be TEN Times harder to actually gain market share and traction.
They Do Not Plan Specific Applications of Their Skills
In the current climate of the education economy, you can find a course to learn just about anything you want, on any subject and in various places. Since all of this knowledge can be obtained over the internet there is the added element of convenience and comfort to work through your tutorial, course or reading from anywhere in the world. The only disadvantage of knowledge found so easily is the trap of people becoming learning-junkies. I would consider a learning-junky a person who is continually learning and bouncing from course to course with no true plan of any implementation of the technology they are learning. The learning junky revels in learning new things and demonstrates a thirst for knowledge by attending seminars but they never actually begin building. Wishing and planning are two separate things. The Learning Junky wishes that they could do some of the cool stuff they see others actually doing in their career but they never start doing anything because they are afraid of failure and despise small beginnings. This all ends when the learning junky actually begins to plan out (like writing on paper) specific implementations of what they are learning, then they begin to actually build them in the code.
They Love The Comfort of The Familiar
If a person has properly estimated the effort of what it takes to learn a new technology and put in the study time necessary, if they have graduated from the level of a learning junkie and began to build and create different implementations of technology there remains one obstacle for them. That last obstacle is “The comfort of the familiar”. The comfort of the familiar is exactly what it sounds like. The comfort of the familiar is the place where many intermediate and advanced developers dwell. They have a skill and have mastered the basics, they have actually created a few cool things but when it comes to them actually building and shipping something that the world has never seen they freeze. To build and ship a software product that no one has ever seen or that I have never built and shipped before is SCARY. What if my ideas are stupid? What if what I build gets criticized by others and rejected by my peers? I cannot tell you the many times i have stopped creating something that I thought was cool because i showed it to one or two friends and they didn’t necessarily think it was as cool as I thought it was. They did not see the vision that I saw & instead of continuing to build that which was unfamiliar I chose to stick with the familiar. I actually have a few projects in this category. This not only applies to miscellaneous side projects but also to launching out in a new market with the new marketable skill you have learned. If you love the comfort of the familiar you will not contact other business owners and let them know you have a skill you can offer them and thus fail to build your business. You will not become the initiator that you need to be as someone who has a marketable skill to offer the world. You will be full of fear and misgivings and you will eventually quit and crawl back into the hole from which you emerged. This the biggest mistake you can make.
Courage Is the Active Ingredient
Whether you plan to use the new skills you learn as an entrepreneur or for moving into a better paying job, the active ingredient you need in the entire process of learning the new skill, then bringing it to market is courage. You need courage to continue learning when you feel like a complete buffoon. You need courage to begin the process of creating specific implementations of what you have learned regardless of how insignificant you feel your creations are. You need courage to take those implementations to the next level and add more advanced functionality to them. You need courage to finally take your project or skills to market. You need courage to continue in the market even when it seems like your idea is not catching on. You need courage to take on a greater load and increase your capacity when the market finally recognizes the value of what you offer. You need courage.
There is no substitute for courage, creativity & perseverance when you are learning & bringing a new skill to market but in order for you to ever experience the pleasure of success you must at the least get started.