At some point in your life, you have tried something new and it didn’t go well.
Especially, when you are young and not afraid of failing or looking foolish. You hop on a bicycle for the first time and brush away the thought of consequences. Or you learn a new math concept in school. Maybe this concept doesn’t make sense at first, and you have to ask questions and make mistakes until suddenly it *clicks* in your mind.
Then you know you’ve learned something new and gained a new understanding or skill.
We get so many of these while we grow up. Whether from school, or parents teaching us, or friends pushing us to try new (sometimes stupid) things.
Then we become adults and settle into a job. At first, we feel excited as we learn about our work.
Usually, these first jobs don’t require much skill or thought. So then comes the monotony and boredom.
At some point, you may be promoted or transferred to a new position where you learn some more stuff. Probably not too challenging though, right?
This monotony drones on unless you decide and push yourself hard enough to break out of this stagnation.
You might change industries completely and get excited again about learning something new. Well, this is great, but how long does this enthusiasm last in most industries? Not very long in my experience.
If you want to advance and keep your life interesting at work, then you have to push yourself and stand out from the rest.
(Side note: I’m not necessarily advocating that you strive to stay in the workforce long-term. There are pros and cons to this choice and it depends on your goals. But if you are going to stay in the workforce for at least a few years, then you may as well enjoy it and learn something while you’re at it.)
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You want to be that guy who is asking questions from the more experienced workers. Find some books about your industry that teach more about your role and other roles in the industry that interest you.
Talk to your boss/supervisor/foreman/etc. and let show them that you are the kind of man who is always moving forward.
Do your work and do it well
Make sure you are still doing the job you are being paid for. Do your work and do it well. But don’t let this consume all of your time at work.
Take your Time
When you are learning and trying these new skills, you will not be great at them. The more difficult the skill, the more time, and effort it will require you to become proficient.
That’s fine. There is no time limit. You’re going to make mistakes.
As long as you are not hurting people, or putting people at risk, or wasting resources (beyond reason), then you are moving forward.
Make foolish errors and be willing to learn
You’ll feel awkward and confused and make foolish errors. That’s great.
These errors teach you a lot if you are willing to learn from them.
This is a broad topic and it is going to apply drastically different depending on your industry.
Still, I think you can take this concept and apply it to your job in some way.
Embrace the awkwardness. Understand that allowing yourself to be awkward while learning is letting you grow.
You will enjoy your work more, and you’ll know that you are moving forward.
Stay hungry for knowledge and skills.
This can be mitigated by having strong social skills, but it’s not necessary.
Don’t use not having these skills as an excuse for not trying.