Do you think you learned anything today?
Or is it possible that you let the entire day go by without picking up anything new – and I’m not talking about finding out that your neighbor smokes pot secretly, or that sort of stuff. I mean actually learning something that has an applicable value to things you do in your life.
I’m a huge fan of learning things. And I am happy to learn pretty much anything, when it comes down to it. When I was a kid, I was one of those (possibly annoying) geek types that actually read the encyclopedia; that’s right, I wasn’t just using it for school projects and reports. We had a set of the black ones – Colliers – and we got ‘yearbooks’ each year with the current news added into the mix.
I was also that weird kid who checked out as many books as the library, or the bookmobile in the summer, would allow. I read them all, was normally finished with them before the bookmobile returned, and that also contributed to my encyclopedia reading.
If that’s not weird enough…
I went to bartending school in New Orleans. Seriously. Learned to make all those insanely old fashioned, time consuming drinks like the Sazerac, the Old Fashioned, the French 75, Tom Collins… all without modern day (terribly unappetizing) drink mixes that you get from the grocery. Of course I did actually bartend for years after that, but I don’t recall more than maybe four people ordering a Manhattan – but Pimm’s Cups and the aforementioned Sazerac, along with a properly made Mint Julep, are quite popular in The Big Easy year round.
I digress. The point I’m halfheartedly attempting to make this week is that should all be constantly learning; constantly attempting to figure out more stuff, find out about things we don’t know, pick up tidbits that lead to more tidbits that lead to a better understanding of how things work.
Many years ago, and by many I mean about twenty, give or take a couple, I was incredibly driven to learn graphics – the Corel versions – and HTML, mostly because that’s just what you did back then. Had I realized that Adobe was going to become the 800 pound gorilla of the world, I’d have gone a different route with the graphics software, but whatever.
Modern day learning options are almost unlimited.
Reasonably speaking, you can learn to do almost anything without ever setting foot inside a traditional classroom. Many people make the claim of being ‘self-taught’ at some skill or other, but in reality, they learned to do what they know by searching on the internet, finding YouTube videos or other tutorials, taking an online class, or sussing out their trial and error with the guidance of GitHub, Sailing Anarchy, or other topic-appropriate forums.
And this is before the rise of all these online learning platforms that aren’t affiliated with traditional schools or universities. Tuts+, Lynda, Skillshare, etc – these are your best friend if you are interested in learning about something and you don’t want to be bound by the structure and discipline of a traditionally based learning program.
Trust me, I’ve been kicked out of college (twice), not because I could not or would not learn the course material, do the work, or pass the tests; I am simply not a good class attendee, even when I scheduled all my classes to be on Tuesday and Thursday each week. That’s right, I only had to show up for two long days each week and I still could not manage the attendance requirements. I had good grades though, and my test results were fantastic. Oh well.
If you aren’t learning, then you are stagnating.
I’m not saying that you need to go out and learn how to be an astrophysicist, or that you need to solve mathematical equations that computers can’t sort; I am saying that if you aren’t upping the value of your skillset in the workplace, or at least learning to create in a way that makes you a more valuable human being, then you are the equivalent of a moldy old shoe that no one wears any more and that should be consigned to the rubbish bin.
Learning can be hard, it’s not always fun, and it is sometimes a pain in the ass. I had an epiphany the other day about how Photoshop masks and brushes really should work – as opposed to the way I was attempting to make them work – and all the sudden life is a bit brighter when I sit down at my laptop.
I’m also watching a couple of courses about illustration – digital and mechanical – because I want to up my game, by learning a drawing style that isn’t not so literal, but more figurative and abstract. I’m just not one of those people that can draw realistic scenes, with a pencil or a mouse, so I’ve concluded that if I want to draw, I need to learn another way to do it.