“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.” — Henry Ford.
I feel concerned that my skills (functional expertise, leadership aptitude, and emotional intelligence) are not keeping up with the expectations of employers or my clients. Though I have not done a survey, I am fairly confident this concern is shared by a lot of people in the workplace — regardless of age, past success, and even seniority.
The pace of change seems to be accelerating due in part to all the talk (and hype) around AI and how it will revolutionize work and life.
Hiring advice to employers includes recommendations to only hire the best of the best, to be picky, have high standards and not compromise. So it’s no wonder that people feel like they cannot measure up to the desire for functional excellence, strategic thinking, and managerial skills.
What can we do? Here are my thoughts for individuals (including myself):
My Advice For Individuals
- Normalize the feeling of overwhelm created by rapid change. Remind yourself that you are not alone or even the first generation to feel this sense of overwhelm from change.
- Actively invest in yourself. Spend the money (and perhaps more importantly the time) to do research on classes that are available (there are plenty).
- Give it time. As with all other new habits, consistent practice matters and bears fruit over time.
- Don’t overlook emotional intelligence training or management / leadership skill development.
- Go deep in a few areas. The investment in learning will compound.
My Suggestion to Employers
- Create space in the work week for learning. Mandate time (during ‘normal’ work hours) for employees to develop their skills.
- Create a budget per employee for learning and development. It can be substantial and still much less than the per person cost of one work offsite (when people are flying into a central location).
- Set the example top down. Have the CEO and Leadership Team talk about the skills they are working on.
- Recognize that there are no perfect hires. Everyone has some offsetting weakness to their strengths. Be open about what you are willing to accept in the hiring process.
My Recommendation to our Institutional Leaders (esp. Politicians and Educators)
- Teach emotional intelligence with the same focus, rigor, and seriousness as other subjects. K-12 education should include classes every year to help develop emotional intelligence skills.
- Teach life skills that most young adults graduating from college have not been taught. Including personal finance management, more health/nutrition and exercise teaching, and other knowledge required to live alone successfully.
- Define life success as more than just financial success to include mental and emotional well-being. While higher incomes can offset some unhappiness (allow you to outsource tasks you don’t like doing), money doesn’t increase your base emotional set-point. Whereas meditation and other types of therapy (e.g CBT) can help reset wellbeing higher.
Were I speaking to a friend I would remind them to give themselves grace, honor all the progress they have made, and continue to invest in themselves.