More than ever in the history of mankind, the time is now to feed your hunger for learning – that is if you even have a hunger for learning. The overflowing information through the digital world has made it easy for all of us to accumulate as much knowledge on any subject of your choice as possible. Technology has truly revolutionized the art of learning.
Today I watch my 11-year-old son, downloading Photoshop, dream weaver, and much other software and sitting for hours and maneuvering his mind and imaginative senses to understand, comprehend and then put it into practice to come up with creative expressions. We as parents take pride in our children who display a larger than comprehensive talent, however, when it comes to us, so few of us are ready to take advantage of the same technology that is equally available to us. Should you make the effort to unlearn so you can learn? Here are some statistics for you to give it a good thought:
- Adult education experts estimate that up to 40% of what tertiary students are learning will be obsolete a decade henceforth when they are working in jobs that have yet to be created.
- The top 10 most in-demand jobs today didn’t even exist 10 years ago.
- By 2020, there will be more people over 65 years old than under age 15 in the world’s developed countries.
We live in a changing world understates the speed of both the pace and the scope of ongoing change. To add to this the social changes in family structure, the globalization of talent, and continued innovation in technology. It is hard to imagine just what the world, and it’s increasingly mobile workforce will look like 20 years from now. Certainly, nothing like it looked twenty years ago!
For the three-plus billion people in the workforce, it’s not just about keeping up with the rate of change and the nature of the work we do, but how we do it and where. When anyone can work from anywhere, it changes the nature of work everywhere. Traditional boundaries disappear, and the global talent pool becomes more skilled and mobile, which presents a challenge for people in developed countries to adapt faster to stay competitive. Your ability to adapt to changing face and proactively make changes in your career is what will make a crucial difference to where you find yourself even just five years from now. To quote Mr. Darwin: ”It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
We are all born with an intense desire to learn, somewhere along the line many of us lose our passion for learning. The pressure to excel in school with its ever-pressing emphasis on test scores can rob the enjoyment from the process of learning. Whatever the reasons, once the basics are covered, many people tend to stick with what they know and avoid situations or challenges where they may mess up or be forced to learn something new, thus creating a safe, secure and comfortable (and confining) world for themselves. Most say they’re open to change, but actually do their best to avoid it. It’s time you wake up and smell the coffee.
Learning agility is the name of the game. Where the rules are changing fast, your ability to be agile in letting go of old rules and learning new ones is increasingly important. Learning agility is the key to unlocking your change proficiency and succeeding in an uncertain, unpredictable and constantly evolving environment, both personally and professionally. There are countless things you may have to unlearn in your job, business and career, even throughout the next 12 months.
- Unlearn the designs you use.
- Unlearn the methodology you use.
- Unlearn the technology you use.
- Unlearn the way you approach your brand.
- Unlearn the way you communicate your value.
- Unlearn the way you deliver your value.
- Unlearn the skills and knowledge needed to get to the next level.
- Unlearn who your target market is, what they want and why.
- Unlearn how to get the most from your employees.
Unlearning is about moving away from something—letting go—rather than acquiring. It’s like stripping old paint. It lays the foundation for the new layer of fresh learning to be acquired and to stick. However, like the painter who needs to prepare a surface, stripping the paint is 70% of the work while repainting is only 30%.
As the global economy evolves and market forces drive competition for jobs to new levels, it’s the people who have proactively worked to expand and diversify their skill sets that will be the best placed. The New York Times columnist Tom Friedman wrote, ‘Everyone had to bring something extra; being average is no longer enough. Everyone is looking for employees who critical thinking and problem solving can do, just to get an interview. What they are really looking for is people who can invent, re-invent and re-engineer their jobs while doing them.’
People who find opportunities in a changing environment are those who are actively looking for them. The choice is simple: act or be acted upon. Since change is the only constant, you can truly rely upon, learning to navigate and adapt to it is not just important to your survival, it’s essential for you to thrive in the bigger game of life.
As futurist and philosopher Alvin Toffler once wrote: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Think about it – think rich, think different.