Monday, November 4, 2013

Improve Yourself 13: Stay Current, Not Obsolete

Upgrade Your SkillsThis continues our series on how to improve yourself to get the biggest raises and best promotions

Bruce worked as a private accountant for the same large company for 37 years. He started when accounting was still entered by pencil on giant spreadsheets. He developed his 10-key by touch skills and accuracy. He adapted to doing accounting on computers when the company introduced a SQL based accounting package and again when they transitioned to a PeopleSoft package. It was hard, but he did it. He moved to a much smaller community when he retired. However, the great recession depleted his investments and he had to return to work. The community had no big companies, only small ones that used QuickBooks. He did not know how to use QuickBooks and gave up trying to learn. Instead he got a job as a greeter at a well-known chain store.

Continually Update Your Technical Skills

Every occupation continually changes. Most of the changes deal with evolving or disruptive (as Clayton Christensen termed it) technology. These technological changes require you to upgrade your skills or become obsolete. Some examples of how far-reaching these changes are:

  • Auto mechanics increasingly use computers for diagnostics and repair
  • Mines and manufacturing use automated robots, drillers, and conveyers
  • Architects, engineers, and
  • Administrative, managerial, and clerical positions all use software that send major updates every 2-3 years

One of the easiest ways to maintain your skills is through training offered through professional or trade associations and manufacturers or vendors. They offer training and instructions on upgrades and new products.

Keep Your Mind Active as You Get Older

Growing older affects our synapses and how well we think and process information. You can delay the slowdown with exercises for the mind. Here are some examples:

  • One 80-year old uses a computerized game of Go to keep her mental faculties sharp
  • An 83-year old man swims 3 miles a day listening to books on his iPod as he swims
  • Many older people play computerized solitaire to maintain eye-&-hand coordination

Wednesday we explore how to use your mentor and network to improve yourself

This blog will improve as you submit comments, questions, and experiences. We will answer your questions in future blog posts. Please submit your comments and questions so we can answer them.

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