“Get the skills to pay the bills!”
We’ve all heard that, right?
But what skills are we talking about here, exactly? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of different skills.
Although success is usually born from a concoction of many different skills, I’m going to argue that one, in particular, overrides them all.
And that skill is the ability to self-teach.
This skill is truly life-changing, not only in respect of gaining new knowledge and understanding but also in terms of personal growth and happiness, let alone earning potential.
You do not need to wait or rely on anyone else. Instead, you take control of your own learning journey, you find the information you need, and you teach yourself.
The power is in your own hands and it can open almost any door in life that you want it to.
Do you want to be an artist? Great! Grab some paints, follow some online instructional videos, and through some experimentation and trial and error, you can become an artist.
Do you want to work as a digital marketer? Great! Read some blog posts, take part in courses, watch webinars, go to seminars, build your first website, see what works and what doesn’t, and you’re on your way to becoming a digital marketer.
Okay, so maybe you don’t want to be an artist or digital marketer, or even change your day-job for that matter, but at some point, you are going to want to solve a problem.
Everyone has problems. It can be something as trivial as a dripping kitchen tap or as important as managing your finances and investments. You can, of course, hire a plumber or a financial advisor, or you can learn how to do it yourself!
Just to be clear, I’m not suggesting that you learn how to do everything yourself. That would be silly. The point I’m trying to make is that once you have the ability to self-teach, you can use that skill to help you solve the myriad of problems that life throws at you instead of sitting there like a rabbit in headlights not knowing what to do.
You become your own solution to life’s problems.
Is this is a skill, or is it initiative?
That’s a good question.
I would say that it’s both! One cannot exist without the other.
Having the initiative to go and find the answers to your questions is akin to taking the first step to conquer a mountain. But having the skill to self-teach is akin to knowing how to use a map and compass. The first will get you started, the second will get you to your destination.
The learning jouney
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a first-world country, you have been given the gift of free education. However, once we complete the educational roadmap that is laid out by the country in which we are studying in, very few of us continue the learning journey throughout the rest of our adult life.
We simply stop investing in our own education.
Why is this?
Well, the goal for most people is to secure a 9-5 job with a monthly pay packet that they are happy with. Once they have ticked this box, they never strive to learn anything new. They walk out of the classroom and believe that their learning is done; they know everything that they need to know to get on in life.
Educational institutions teach us how to sit exams and how to answer questions correctly. We are praised for getting things right and reprimanded for getting things wrong. This creates a right or wrong environment and gives learning both a beginning and an end. Once we have secured our degree and our job, we’re at the end. Done. Finished. Game over.
There are many people out there who hold prestigious degrees and career roles that do not have the ability to self-teach, nor the initiative to do anything about it. They’ve plateaued and got stuck spinning their wheels. Without someone telling them what to do next or which box is the correct one to tick, they become Einstein’s definition of insanity; doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Growth = happiness
I don’t care how much money you make in your day job, living the same identical day over and over again is a sure-fire way to end up unhappy and depressed.
We need challenges in life. We need to set ourselves goals, we need to try new things, we need to fail, and we need to learn.
This provides our lives with purpose and meaning.
By continuing on the learning journey you will, in turn, make yourself happier, along with achieving your goals and mastering new skills.
It’s a double-win.
‘Use it or lose it’
I’m sure you’ve heard of the above phrase.
It’s usually tossed around in gyms and means that if you want to keep your muscles strong, you need to use them. By regularly exercising your muscles you make them stronger and larger, but neglecting to use them will result in your strength and muscle size decreasing.
The same phrase can be applied to our minds and our ability to self-teach.
Your brain is like a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it gets. So, the more you continue to self-teach, the easier it becomes to self-teach!
This activity of searching for answers and problem-solving is gymnastics for the brain. You’re building your mental strength and flexibility. It can also help prevent anxiety, depression, and improve your sleep quality.
I don’t think I need to say anymore…you get the picture.
It’s now a triple-win.
At first, when people think of learning a new skill, they immediately think of expensive qualifications, courses, and tuition.
But we’re talking about self-teaching which has a much more humble price tag, resulting in a higher R.O.I. (return on investment).
Here are a few resource of where you can go to get cost-effective self-teaching content:
- Udemy – online courses
- Books – you can find some great ones here – 10/10 books
- YouTube – there’s an instructional video for almost everything
- Articles and blog posts – just Google what you’re looking for
Whatever it is that you want to self-teach, someone has already handily packaged up the information you need and is distributing it at a very low cost, if not for free!
It’s easier than ever before
Not that long ago, if you wanted to learn something new or find out a piece of information, you had to ask someone who (may) already know, or you had to go to a library and hope that they had a book on the subject.
Nowadays, all you have to do is ask Alexa or carry out a quick Google search. We have an unthinkable amount of information and content instantaneously available at our fingerprints.
Any question we have, no matter how trivial, we can find the answer to thanks to the world wide web.
There really is no reason NOT to self-teach.
The wish for more wishes
We’ve all heard the story; a genie pops out of a magic lamp to grant you three wishes but, upon reading the small print, you find out you are not allowed to wish for more wishes.
Well, not in this case!
Developing the skill to self-teach is your wish for more more wishes.
With this one skill you can learn and master almost any other skills. The possibilities are infinite.
And as we’ve discussed, the more you self-teach, the easier it becomes for you to self-teach. It’s a glorious cycle that works forever in your favor.
Master this skill and you will truly be the captain of your own ship with the ability to steer it in whatever direction you desire.
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