Why you need to Learn Multiple Skills Constantly and Quickly in the Future

Photo by Ilya Pavlov on Unsplash

Ever wondered what skills are the most demanded ones in future? Some of the promising candidates are — Big data analytics, AI & Machine Learning, Robotics, Cloud Computing, IoT, etc.

But! for how long?

We live in a time where change is so rapid — a skill most demanded 5 years ago may no longer be important today, primarily due to fast-growing technology. In her TED talk, Margaret Heffernan quotes “The unexpected is becoming the norm.” It is our responsibility to adapt to fast-growing technology and skill ourselves accordingly.

There may be some big picture of how the future would look like, but the specific skill sets we would require is oblivious.

What do we do about this? How do we equip ourselves for the uncertain future?

The answer lies in — Flexibility. Successful people today are the ones who were flexible enough to quickly learn new skills as and when the need arose. The challenge here is not to find a source to learn the skill (There are thousands of EdTech platforms available to learn), rather it’s ‘learning them quickly’

The popular 10,000-hour rule (coined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’) states — To achieve world-class proficiency in a skill, you need to practice for about 10,000 hours. Which is technically years! Going this rule — by the time you’ve mastered the skill, it probably would have been automated & gone obsolete or changed so much, that what you learnt will no longer be useful.

Also, we don’t have so much time to practice and may also not need ‘world-class proficiency’ — a decent proficiency will do. So how do we learn new skills in the quickest way possible?

Here are some ways I follow to learn a new skill quickly:

1. Teach Someone

How are you suppose to teach someone before even you learn? The key here is, you need not teach a real person, you can teach someone in your imagination! It’s simple to practice too — imagine you’re teaching whatever you’ve learnt so far to a friend or a family member — you can teach aloud or inside your head, whichever you’re comfortable with.

Using your imagination to teach someone is helpful in a couple of ways — You’ll not be able to teach a ‘real person’ all the time, and when you’re in the early stages of learning a skill, the knowledge you’ve gained would be partial so it’s not practical to teach a real person.

When you teach someone (real or imaginary), you will try to keep the concept as simple as possible. This will not only make someone understand but also you’ll be able to understand it better and better. During this process, you’ll get a firm understanding of whatever you’re trying to learn.

Personally, this is my favourite technique, I imagine myself standing in a podium and teaching a group of people. And finally, when you reach a certain level of proficiency, you can teach it to a real person, which will introduce practical difficulties — eventually learning more!

2. Argue with yourself

This is also a technique I personally follow. Most of us have this internal self — we treat it like someone else inside of ourselves. Usually, argument happens when two people have a different opinion or opposing views, to defend our opinion/view we try to come up with new ways to explain the concept under discussion. During this process our understanding of the skill/concept deepens, making it impossible to forget the skill we’re learning.

It’s not advisable to argue with someone, also you may not yet have a strong understanding of whatever you’re trying to learn. So it’s good to use imagination to argue with yourself.

3. Practice

However effective the other techniques are, the best way to learn a new skill is to practice, and it’s the most common technique too. Practise doesn’t mean repeating the sequence of steps, again and again — to get ‘skilled’ quickly you need to introduce variation in it. When you are learning a skill or a tool — don’t work with the same problem again and again — try solving a new problem, which you have the least idea on solving it.

For example when you are learning a software tool — practise with different problem sets, rather than working with similar ones. When I practised a few tools in the past, I work with different problem sets — Initially, I would have the least idea how to solve it, so I Google them. This way I learn new tricks about the tool and what’s more interesting is I learn a lot of other tricks in this process.

An article by American RadioWorks discusses the same in detail: Variation is key to deeper learning

Conclusion

The biggest threat today is we don’t know with certainty which job is under threat of technology replacing it. We live in a time where change is rapid and unpredictable and the best way to prepare for the future is to be flexible!

P.S. The most demanded skill was always and will always be ‘Creativity,’ it is the one skill necessary for every single job — irrespective of the technology or domain you work for. To me, Creativity is one of the few things that makes us Human.

Originally published at http://arunsuresh3141.wordpress.com on October 22, 2019.

I write about Self-Development, Skills, Learning, and Innovation.

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