Posted On 19 Sep 2011
Continuous learning can be a valuable idea, even more valuable than it initially may appear.
It is obviously important if you are unemployed or underemployed and looking for a job.
I remember my father telling me when I was a teenager that, whatever field I chose to go into, there was always room at the top for more excellence.
Want a top job? Even with a high unemployment rate, if you have a set of skills that are in demand, there are always good jobs to be had.
Who is responsible for improving and upgrading your skills? You are.
All thoughtful adults realize that the pace of technological change has accelerated in recent decades. The seemingly relentless advance of technological change undermines demands for certain types of jobs and accelerates demand for other types of jobs.
Continuous learning is how to ensure a brighter financial future for yourself and your loved ones. Watch for changes in demand and adapt yourself to them by matching your strengths to the demand. If you do, your skills will be in demand. That demand can put a lot of money in your pocket.
Continuous learning in this sense has been called by Lynda Gratton “serial mastery.” Just as serial monogamy has become increasingly more acceptable in the ruthlessly competitive battle between the sexes, serial mastery is becoming increasingly more lucrative in the ruthlessly competitive battle of economic warfare (competition).
If so, continuous learning isn’t just an aspect of flexibility; it’s a financial leverage point.
Notice that it’s a strategy that does not involve getting stuck on one identity, one self concept. It involves changing some of the important “content” of your life deliberately and regularly.
If you stay stuck with a self-identification for which there is no economic demand, you will suffer financially. You will look in vain for someone to give you a job as a typesetter or a pin maker. You can even vote for politicians who promise you such obsolete jobs; if you do, they may win their elections, but you won’t get your job.
If you adopt continuous learning as a mindset, it will automatically improve your attitude. Instead of wanting others to give you a job, you will proactively be preparing yourself for jobs with rising demand.
It’s not true, as a recent advertising slogan had it, that attitude is everything. On the other hand, attitude is critical. The world itself is neither heaven nor hell. Your attitude, though, can make it seem as if it were either heaven or hell.
Adopting it as an attitude is, at least partially, living an examined life. As far as philosophers like me are concerned, you can, like cows in a field eating grass, lead an unexamined life or, like other intellectually alive human beings, lead an examined life.
Do you see it as a duty or as an opportunity?
If you only see it as a necessary duty, your attitude is not yet as open as it may become.
Continuous learning would not be possible without openness to other perspectives [click here for more on perspective].
All perspectives are relative. No perspective is absolute.
There is, though, a final stage beyond adopting continuous learning as either a strategy or even an attitude.
It’s the stage in which you cease to identify yourself with any “content” whatsoever, the stage in which you see all “content” as occurring within unbounded openness.
If you limit yourself only to “content”, only to the domain of Becoming [click here for more about Becoming], you will never find your true self.
Shunryu Zuzuki, Roshi: “Unless you know how to practice zazen, nobody can help you.”
If you do not have an effective spiritual practice, nobody can help you.
My chief suggestion in this post is that utilizing continuous learning to broaden the scope of what you identify with can be an important step in the process of realizing your own true nature.