What are the Essentials to survive? (Food for Thoughts)
In 2021 context, technology has been moving tremendously fast. Thing changes and thing evolves. Non-fungible token is a recent term that was unheard before. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are popular domains that were rare 20 years ago. New programming languages, SDKs or packages are published on daily basis. The key to survive and remain competitive in today’s society is no longer formal education. It is the Trio-Learning-Mindset: Ability to learn, Willingness to learn and Curiosity to learn.
Moore’s Law states that we can expect the speed and capability of our computers to increase every couple of years, and we will pay less for them — this means exponentially. However, what has accelerated this phenomenon is the Covid-19 pandemic. Individuals regardless of age are forced to pick-up digital technology to enable communication, learning, working or even shopping. Businesses are forced to conduct meeting online, allow working remotely as well as allow secured flow of confidential information digitally. This is from consumers point of view. How about the potential and current workforce population?
Formal education has always been one of the pillars to prepare our future generation to enter the workforce and solve problems. Moreover, even veteran needs to go through further formal education training to upgrade themselves. However, formal education has been obsolete. We are entering an era where we have to learn how to learn. This is not an oxymoron. Self-learning is the key for us to remain competitive in near future. If technology and solution to problems have changed so much just in 2020–2021, imagine what 2030 or even 2050 brings. Will we survive just from formal education?
If we look at programming language as an example, many languages that did not exist in 2012 make it to the top 20 charts in 2020. For instance, TypeScript and Swift. On the other hand, there are dead languages such as Haskell, ASP, and CoffeeScript. This is not a coincidence. If we stop learning, we will be cancelled in 10 years time if we are lucky. Otherwise, in 5 years time.
Formal education has been foundation for many of us but we have to go one step further, out of our comfort zone and start grooming learning as a habit. Many informal learning spaces are available today. For instance, Udemy, Cloudera, or even Google’s Professional Certificate Training Programs. What is the solution then if formal education is no longer as effective as before and we have to self-learn? I present to you the Trio-Learning-Mindset: Ability to learn, Willingness to learn and Curiosity to learn.
Ability to Learn
Many will associate ability to learn with Intelligence Quotient (IQ). I do not deny that. However, I think there are so much more stories to just IQ. Even though IQ plays apart, it is the habit of learning that increases our ability to learn. Just like how exercising increases our body stamina and builds up muscles to increase the intensity of our trainings, it works the same for learning. If we have the habit of learning, it allows our brain to learn faster. If you have not learnt anything new for years, you can start picking up learning habits slowly. Maybe one word a day to ten words a day to new programming language/technology in a month. By building up our ability to learn, we are growing and adapting to the changes that are happening around the world so that we can remain competitive. In 5 years time, when a new technology emerges, we will be able to pick it up fast. If I have this mindset since 10 years ago, I would have the ability to publish my own cryptocurrencies instead of catching up with trends still.
Willingness to Learn
After building up the ability to learn through the habit of learning, it is not enough.
If you can, it does not mean you will.
The above quote says it all. Even if you have the ability to learn, you must ensure that you are willing to learn. I believe there are many of us that can learn extremely fast, however, we always thought to ourselves that it is not worth our time to learn as there are no direct ROI (return of investment) in learning it. To me, learning is beyond CBA (cost benefits analysis). Learning is always a long term investment. Even though the new skill is not value adding to our work or daily tasks, it helps us in connecting the dots and therefore, able to solve problems more efficiently. Having said so, if we are too greedy in learning everything, we will be jack of all trades but master of none. It is still important in prioritizing what to learn, be it strategic or not. My point is… we have to be open-minded and always have the mindset of I will learn it now without procrastinating. Only then, we will grow and remain competitive. or even be ahead of the population.
Curiosity to Learn
The last mindset in learning is curiosity to learn. If you can learn and you will learn, how frequent do you learn? We are bombarded by new information everyday, both technical and non-technical. We need to be curious of the things around us. We need to constantly asking why…? Every children grow up asking the why question whenever they are experiencing something that they have not experienced before, however, as we grow up we lose the curiosity that are once in us. We are often confined by the formal education system that we only learn what is required for exam. As this mindset stuck with us, now that we are in workforce, many of us only learn things that impact their work directly. If we can find the curiosity that are once in us, take my words, we won’t be stuck with a problem or situation for an extended period of time. If we are curios and not oblivious to our surrounding, we will always find opportunities to grow ourselves, or even to radically change our situation.
I have no particular talent. I am merely passionately curious.
— Albert Einstein
I honestly hope through our curiosity, one of us can be the next Albert Einstein.
To conclude, these are just my two cents of how I get by life, just trying to survive. I constantly practice the Trio Learning-Mindset to help me stay on track. Through these mindsets, I am learning on a daily basis so that I can prepare myself for any changes the world brings in the future. I am excited for the future because I am prepared for it, and I want to leave you with this question. Are you ready for 2030?