Pmaybe an activity I’ve been unknowingly engaged in is inviting seniors, juniors, peers; young and old; Men and women to the habit of reading. This demand is adequately backed up by stating that skills need to be improved and skills need to be improved.
I have persuaded colleagues in the office and too many others to spend a percentage of their monthly pay packet on learning and development activities. Regularly buying books (to read and not to collect dust) on various topics is part of it.
As soon as a person becomes responsible for the performance of another colleague, he/she acquires the status of supervisor/manager. Self-supervision is a difficult task in itself, and being asked to supervise others requires different skills. These are acquired either through reading or short courses in the evenings or at weekends at renowned and respected universities.
The cost of purchasing books or paying fees to participate in development programs should not be treated as an expense item; Instead, the cost should be charged to an asset account, which is an investment account likely to consistently pay dividends. Like land, this account is not depreciated; it only increases in value towards the north. Books (any reading material), if so, need to be re-evaluated at regular financial intervals. Knowledge is an asset that does not need to be subject to either depreciation or depletion accounting treatment. Knowledge is a growing commodity and not a wasted commodity.
Unfortunately (actually, the word should be disgusting here!) when I ask the youngsters to improve their learning, the general answer is that we don’t have “enough time”. No time! What! But this is a resource that our compatriots have in abundance. There is an oversupply of time because the time for effective use is very little. Our nation should be at the forefront of availability of time. If only it were tangible we would have enough exportable surpluses and the foreign exchange earnings would have come in handy in these difficult economic conditions.
“Nothing belongs to us but time”. Those who use time find it short, those who kill time find it very long. The worst time users complain about a lack of time. Any pursuit of honesty and nobility to improve yourself will always make time.
For example, social media sites are meant to be used for knowledge acquisition – rate how much time you spend checking in to social media to gather information versus non-productive, frivolous activities? Your self-examination will yield embarrassing results for most. Check out how effective social media is to improve your own performance. If your personal characteristics and characteristics do not improve significantly, then it’s time for an assessment and correction.
People in the 15-30 age group believe that knowledge acquired through memorization will replace them. Untrue. A good degree from a decent university is a basic requirement. The information and knowledge acquired at universities can last a maximum of 2 years. So if you join an organization in your mid-twenties after completing your studies, you have to realize that after about 3 years you have to learn new methods in order to handle existing business or expand or build up new business.
The wealth of information must be supplemented by fresh knowledge. A pond with stagnant water without fresh topping up begins to stink. The water needs to be changed periodically to allow the lotus, shrubs and even weeds to bloom. Likewise, the knowledge pool with its initial input cannot last a lifetime. There must be a fresh infusion of updated knowledge. Otherwise it stinks too.
Returning to school takes courage, but those who are anxious about acquiring new skills and abilities are then doomed to stagnation in their careers.
Those in the workshop who say we’ve always worked this way are the ones who will ruin the institution in the long run. You are a change resister! Anything new, be it in process or technology, is viewed with suspicion. “It won’t work here” is their normal response to any new idea, process, or technology platform.
It is a good habit to do honest introspection at the end of each day to see what has been “newly” acquired. The mundane, boring routine of the mill becomes so overwhelming that most fall for just planning the routine for the next day. The routine is an addictive drug, the more you do it the better off the routine you become. Routine is the worst enemy of fresh knowledge. You need to make time to engage in imaginative thinking.
“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it is spent. “Be careful not to let others pass you by” (Carl Sandburg). Unfortunately, the workplaces are so closely monitored that creative activities cannot take place at any time.
To read seriously, to improve knowledge, one must concentrate. The TikTok attention span of less than three minutes gives no chance to improve and advance. Imagine if all millennials were guided by a 3 minute attention span, how can there be a good deal? Or how can we expect them to come up with something that’s long-term in return; Even the short-term successes are short-lived because the engagement environment is changing dynamically.
We all have it in us to improve – that position, once recognized for each individual, cannot be dragged to death or thwarted by intention. Self-examination for correct timing is imperative.
The only real skill that matters in tomorrow’s world is the ability to learn what you need to know on a regular basis. (John Naisbitt). Learning also begins with unlearning. The antiquated thought of walking the streets with the same rubber has no value. A continuous review must take place to encourage new techniques and knowledge, while at the same time old practices and outdated knowledge should be jettisoned.
Professionals who wish to remain relevant must regularly improve their skills, knowledge and talent by accepting input from seniors or by passing and earning certifications. Doctors must undergo regular tests to ensure their progress. Flight captains/pilots must be X days in training in a calendar year.
The dignity of a professional lies in the ability to remain relevant to his time. Change is dynamic, so how can anyone handle change with an education, skill or training based on stagnation? Learning and development activities must also be dynamic.
Rumi says the heart is the size of the ocean; Go and find the gem hidden in your depths. The journey of self-discovery begins with understanding that I know I don’t know. Ignorance’s worst cousin is arrogance. There can never be mastery of any subject, so better-knowing arrogance is the workshop’s display of ultimate ignorance. To be a substantial leader, one must indulge in endless cultivation in search of new inputs.
My answer to youngsters is, if someone my age with the responsibilities I’m given is never short of time, how come you have a short job with time? I invite and direct them to make an assessment of where the available time is being spent.
The results can be terrifying. Don’t we see youth abusing the power of cellular/mobile technology? Every discovery and invention has its advantages and disadvantages – it’s about how we use the improvements in science and technology to lead people with empathy.
So what’s your excuse? Time. Money….None!
– The author is a senior banker