In this fast-paced modern business environment, the most important skill you can have is knowing how to acquire new skills. It doesn’t matter if you know how to write software code in the programming language du jour or if you are the world’s fastest widget maker. Those skills will be obsolete in a matter of years and a crop of recently trained people with newer skills will take over the hottest jobs.
The old thinking of “if I have this skill, I should be able to get a job” no longer works. Getting stuck in that mindset will harm your career. Making yourself pliable and open to new options is the key in today’s era of change.
Here are three ways that will give you the power to acquire new skills:
1. Read daily. Reading constantly will keep you in the loop about trends so you will know what’s coming and can take action to stay on top. If you see that your sector is declining, explore opportunities in sectors that are growing before it is too late. Read more than the news. Books give you a deep dive into subjects that can add to your reasoning process and build new skills. Read everywhere you can. The beauty of devices like the iPad is that you can access your newspaper, magazines and books whenever you want. In fact, a Pew eBook survey reported that 20% of Americans are now reading on electronic devices.
2. Have lunch with at least four people you don’t work with every month. That works out to one lunch a week away from your day-to-day colleagues. Meet with old business acquaintances to see how they are doing, with people you recently met at that networking event last month and with someone you just connected with on LinkedIn – this will capitalize on the strength of weak ties. Reaching out beyond your current circles exposes you to a wealth of information that can guide you to make the most opportune career decisions.
3. Join the board of a non-profit organization. Giving back to the community is important. Joining an organization is good. Getting on its board is better. Your leadership role will allow you to contribute more and, politics aside, can be rewarding in ways you may not initially imagine. The interpersonal involvement opens the door for sharing ideas and seeing the world in different ways. This helps shed light on skills that you might want to acquire so you can contribute more to your community. A side benefit is that you meet others with similar interests. When you need assistance, the community you help will typically be there to help you, too.