“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
Those are words of timeless wisdom. Each of us must make the most of every day of our life. But we should also recognize the value of learning something new every day. Now, more than ever before, we need to focus on lifelong learning; on being a perpetual student.
Why? Let me explain.
I spend a lot of my time talking about the importance of digital and IT transformation. Change and disruption are a fact of life. The rise of open source and the idea of people from around the world working together to solve their challenges has accelerated innovation. At the same time, there’s an obvious rise in the number of new technologies coming to the market and at an ever-faster pace. No business wants to end up stagnating or becoming a dinosaur. That’s why innovation and transformation are vital elements contributing to corporate survival.
Personal transformation is equally important. Whether we’re a business leader, manager, stakeholder or individual contributor, none of us can afford to stand still from an individual perspective. That means every one of us will need to constantly adapt, evolve and develop. In short, we all need to be lifelong learners by continually expanding our knowledge, honing our expertise and developing new skills.
Here are 3 important considerations.
1. Employment prospects and career progression
Today, the world of work is profoundly changing. New technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, and robotics are increasingly being adopted in more sophisticated ways. While it’s unclear how new technologies will affect the overall job market, there’s a consensus among experts that we’ll all need new skills to remain relevant and valuable.
On the plus side, technology has the potential to enrich our lives by adding variety, interest, and excitement to our work environment. On the downside, without keeping up to date and constantly adapting, our economic prosperity and career progression are at stake.
2. Lifelong learning needs a plan
Given the pace of change, it’s impossible to forecast which technologies and areas of expertise will be most pertinent in the future. That’s why the ability to adapt, learn new skills, and grow personally is so critical. Of course, that doesn’t just all happen by chance. It’s important to invest time in setting goals, formulating a plan and then executing against that plan.
Organizations will often have a formal process for staff evaluations and reviews. Even if yours doesn’t, make it a priority to regularly assess your skills with the aim of identifying gaps or opportunities for growth. Be interested in understanding the fundamentals of each area of the business and how each part of the organization functions and interacts. Keep a finger on the pulse of relevant technologies that are being adopted in your business sector or that are on the horizon. Define your own plan for short, mid and long term learning opportunities and how you will achieve them. Put your plan into practice and regularly review your progress.
3. Treat mistakes as learning opportunities
According to Henry Ford, “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”
I agree. Mistakes are definitely learning opportunities. They’re bound to happen; especially if you are experimenting, trying to innovate, or pushing the envelope in some way.
Successful business leaders find it best to build an environment that is “mistake friendly” – provided those mistakes aren’t repeated, of course. Everyone should be given the chance to try and fail; and then another chance to try and succeed. That’s the ethos being encouraged here at SUSE.
And to help you with your learning plan, SUSE delivers education, training and certification programs for all. We are also committed to fostering a lifelong learning environment within our company, for our customers, and across the entire open source community.