Wednesday, November 06, 2013

We Can Do It: Learn new things effectively

Learn new things effectively
Best-selling author Sir Ken Robinson describes our current education system as a manufacturing process with widespread standardization across its curriculum, evaluations and graduates. Before, being a standard university graduate got you a secure job with a good income; today, a diploma or degree comes with no guarantees. When you start working in the "real" world, you start to realize that you might not have all (or any) of the practical knowledge or skills required for the job you want. Not to worry — we may not have guarantees, but it's easy (or at least very possible) to learn through practice.

Running an online art gallery, ArtSocket, that aims to deliver both quality products and top user experience requires that I keep abreast with new technology and design trends. This means being proactive in learning things like HTML5, responsive image solutions and web apps. The entire arsenal of skills that I use in my work I've picked up by myself. It's helped me to earn a decent income, as well as take on personal passion projects. In the age of information technology, we are given a tremendous opportunity to learn new skills and to grow as professionals — so fail to evolve, and perish. If you want to learn something new, take it into your own hands.

Passion With a Purpose

Lacking in any formal education, what made some of the top legendary figures in their respective fields great was their drive — Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even Jimi Hendrix each had a goal in mind and moved toward it despite any obstacles. Bill Gates convinced people to pay for his products when he was only a teenager; Steve Jobs bought the company he got fired from. Jimi Hendrix' first guitar was a broom.

These legendary figures aren't intrinsically better than any of us. What really differentiated these people is that they had the gumption to run with their ideas. Embarking on a path of innovation and self-initiation, the need for specific skills reveal themselves simply through necessity and process — you can plan ahead, but that can only take you so far. Set your goal and work towards it, but don't be afraid by unforeseen challenges or seemingly unsolvable problems. The more you become invested in your idea, the more you'll want to learn in order to refine it and make it better. We all have to start somewhere, so start with something that will make you happy and will propel you forward.

Refine and Focus

Once you've set your goals, whether it's a new business, project, or learning objective, it's time to look at the finer details. It's great to see the big picture, but approaching all your obstacles at once can easily overwhelm and discourage you. Break down all the work you need to do into chunks — then break those down further. Once you have a bite-sized task (and what this constitutes will differ for each person), you can simply concentrate on completing that one priority without worrying about how it factors in overall. A sum of small accomplishments can ultimately pave the way towards bigger things and the more you can cross off your to-do list, the more likely you are to continue working at it.

Sometimes, however, you just get suck — don't be afraid to ask for help. The web can often be the best resource to turn to when you encounter a blip in your plan. The key is in asking questions methodically; adding more keywords can help you narrow down your search instead of having you grasp at straws. And, if all you need is a point in the right direction as opposed to a complete solution, seeking out an expert or someone close at hand willing to help you out can be incredibly valuable.

Pave the Way

While taking on a project yourself is a great way to learn, not all of your work will be a success — it might not even turn out remotely like you had expected, but it will produce results. Something that you can take away for your next move. Sometimes these projects will get you noticed and grant you new opportunities and at the very least, you will be able to boast your accomplishments through your resume. Projects you took on and completed on your own might not sound as impressive as being associated with a big brand with a VC title next to it, but they can be just as valuable. Being able to show what you know is better than simply talking about it — self-initiation is what transforms uncertainty into opportunity.

via 4ormat by