The single most important skill you will ever learn is in itself an oxymoron. It is dependent on your ability to vanquish procrastination and achieve something today with view to tackling the unknown that comes tomorrow. As I’ve written previously it requires the drive to tackle the modern world head on: doing nothing has never been so easy. Got a spare few hours? They can disappear as quickly as unlocking your smart phone. For me then this affords opportunity for those who have taught themselves the skill I allude to; to learn how to learn and have the desire to maniacally do so for the rest of your life. The ability to employ autodidacticism in your every day life is the single most valuable skill you can ever acquire and employ. Self-directed learning enables you to learn the skills that you are most passionate about and employ them in innovative way to achieve your goals and ambitions. We no longer need schools, universities or teachers to spoon feed us the information you are paying to acquire. Go out and try finding what interests you and expand your horizons through learning. Schools are irreparably broken, they teach you memory skills required to pass exams at the detriment of teaching you what it means to learn.
Look back through history it is easy to see what I’m talking about. Some of history’s greatest geniuses have forgone university and typical routes of learning to teach themselves and become masters of their fields. William Blake, Jimi Hendrix, HP Lovecraft, Leonardo Da Vinci, James Watt and Alan Moore are all autodidacts. The majority never finished school, not one of them finished a degree course. Instead they chose to follow their curiosity and educate themselves to become specialists in their respective fields by allowing their learning to be both self-directed and within the areas which were of strongest personal intrigue.
The paradox of modern life is that at no time in human history have we been afforded the access to information that we have now. We can literally learn everything about anything and everyone with the pressing of a few key strokes. Wherever you turn on the internet there is the opportunity to learn. From Wikipedia to Codecademy via Udemy, Edx, Duolingo and Coursera there is unprecedented access to education via learn as you read content, taught courses and self directed learning available to absorb however and whenever you wish. This metaphorical drowning in information, I surmise, has resulted in a generation less inclined to pursue self-learning as they erroneously believe they can rely on the internet to provide every answer and solution. The ease of access has bred an over reliance which I believe has contributed to a skill gap in the professional market and disinclined individuals to pursue what they are interested in.
As my library of read literature has expanded the prevailing message from those who have achieved unimaginable successes is that in order to achieve anything one skill is more important than everything else combined. Previously I have dismissed it as a disingenuous post rationalisation inserted to humanise the writer and make it sound as if anyone can achieve the successes they have enjoyed if they employ the same methodology. I have though recently changed my mind after experiencing personal success having identified my goals and incrementally began working towards them, I too now believe anyone can achieve inconceivable success. The message is as simple as it is effective; make goals and acquire the means to achieve them. Success doesn’t just happen, it arrives because you have unmercifully pursued a dream which was at first written words on a page or an imagined belief. The difference between those who have succeeded and those who haven’t is that one set out to achieve and the other has waited for it to happen blaming why is hasn’t on bad luck. This self generation of opportunity comes to those who put themselves out there. Who learn skills that are valuable and employ them to achieve the goals they have made for themselves.
Good things come to those who go out and get them. Nobody achieved greatness waiting for it to find them.
How then can you become an autodidact? Begin small and turn off the TV. Whether you start with 15 minutes a day on an app like Duolingo teaching yourself Spanish, change from Radio 1 to Radio 4 or consume a single video on Udemy each week, this small change can accumulate to meteoric advancement. Once you have broken the Zombaic routine of drifting through each day and letting life happen you can begin making stratospheric strides in learning. Set Goals. Pursue the things that intrigue you. Learn the things that allow you to achieve. You don’t have to look very far to find reports warning that degrees do not prepare graduates for work. Why not take an alternative approach enabled by modern technology? Tools such as Linkedin can provide a window to the careers we seek. Learn what those whose path we seek to replicate have learned, acquire the skills necessary for the positions you aspire to or the goals you seek to attain. By doing so you have learned how to learn and acquired the skills necessary to achieve the ascent to the position you have planned. Make goals and attain them. Make 2016 the year your revolutionary crusade for enlightenment begins.