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Perpetual learning: Why you should always be looking to add to your skills

People who have a very particular career goal which amounts to their idea of ‘success’ might view their end goal as the whole point of training and skills development. In essence, they may see their CV or LinkedIn profile as a work-in-progress series of check-boxes that are crossed off through work experience, training courses, and academic qualifications. ‘Leadership for Team Leaders?’ Check. ‘Project Management Fundamentals?’ Sorted. ‘Advanced Communication Skills?’ Done.


In truth, this is a very poor way to approach training & development opportunities – both in relation to formal training programmes, and in the learning opportunities provided by experiences in a work context. Of course, everybody must – to some extent – jump through the training & development hoops of their particular profession if they want to be successful (or, indeed, simply competent). But treating training & development as a compulsory but empty part of the process of climbing the ladder risks stunting the very development that all those lines on a CV are supposed to demonstrate.


For one, a person who climbs through an organisation with such an attitude is likely to view the attainment of their ideal leadership position as the point at which they no longer need to consider their own development. This risks them plateauing or even falling backwards in regards to skills, falling out of touch with the latest leadership ideas, and ingraining bad practices in their day-to-day activities. Such leaders essentially close off their minds to the possibility that they might still have things to learn, with the result that their shortcomings are likely to be quickly exposed.


Even further back in a career, approaching training & learning without true engagement is a very good way to stymie development. Far better to view every development opportunity as a worthwhile experience in itself, with the potential to add to your skills in ways that might not be immediately obvious from the outside.


Frequently, the most interesting and successful people are those that have never stopped seeking out new opportunities to learn. They have readily acknowledged that they don’t know everything, and they have stayed open to fresh ideas and new ways to approach their challenges.  

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