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If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

A person might have a great job, a nice house, and a great group of friends. They might feel they have everything they need, and so, they just settle, stop moving and pushing themselves. After all, their life seems to be going fine. You might have seen this with friends or acquaintances.

This is fine for a time; but the problem is, while a person stops moving or stops pushing themselves, the world keeps spinning. Time moves forward. Staying in the same place and not seeking self-improvement has the exact same effect as moving backwards.

We are living in a period of technological and social advancement never before seen. Technology has moved and developed more over the past one hundred years, than it had in the previous thousand. With this speed of advancement, it is easy to fall behind. Even if a person’s life seems to be going well now, and they don’t seek improvement, several years down the line, they may find that their lack of advancement, the lack of development in important skills may cause big problems in their lives.

From Evolving to Settling

Human beings, homo sapiens have been on this planet for roughly one million years. At the beginning, humans had nothing to protect themselves in order to survive in the world.

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    So humans started to invent basic tools and formed basic languages in order to survive.

      After some time, humans were satisfied with the things they developed because that was enough for basic survival. They could simply stop learning and creating new stuff.

        It was okay to stop learning new stuff in order to survive until the 19th century, where the rate of technological advancement increased at a rapid pace. In just over sixty years, we went from the first flight by the Wright Brothers to men walking on the moon.

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        A few years later, with the widespread popularity of personal computers, the rate of human progress exploded. This is of course, an over simplification. But think about it, for the first time in history, not seeking self improvement, not moving forward with the rate of human progress, can be extremely dangerous. It’s perfectly possible for someone to fall behind the rate of technological and human progress.

        This isn’t just a vague possibility either. In the UK, it has been estimated that one in five is under threat of being automatized.[1] A person today who is comfortable in their job may find themselves replaced by a machine tomorrow. Many, many people might soon find themselves out of a job.

        Even outside of the job market, technology has changed our lives in countless ways. The average, most basic smartphone is a camera, a diary, a computer, a gaming device, a store, a library, a web browser, a clock, a telephone, a TV…and can be far more with extra apps.

        Not long at all ago, each of these things would have been a separate (and potentially very expensive) device, some would be impossible to carry around with you. It’s easy to take for granted. But imagine if you never got a smartphone and was happy with what you had before. You’d have missed out on a great deal of convenience.

        How to Stay Ahead

        Ultimately, no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to predict how things will change over the next few years. We don’t know what skills will or won’t be needed. Nor do we know how our lives may change over the next few years. Something as simple as a new piece of technology can have an incredible impact on our lives (just think about the smartphone example from before). Because of this, you need to be ready to adapt and not fall into the trap of brief contentment.

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        Keep testing what you know

        We all know how important it is to learn new skills, but again, it is easy to become quickly content with what you have, and with it, stop seeking improvement.  This is illogical. If you stop trying to improve your skills, you’ll find that your skill level doesn’t stay on the same level, but instead decreases. In addition, the market for that skill is ever changing.

        It’s like when you test a tool or device you have, to examine its functionality. Is it wind-proof or water-proof? There is no point keeping a tool that can’t do its job after all.

          It can be useful to pick one of your skills or an area of your life, then critically evaluate it. Ask yourself, how useful is it going to remain? How is it going to adapt or change to changing circumstances?

          Lets relate this example to writing skill. The standards and styles expected of a writer are constantly changing. The internet has had a big impact on the way people read and interact with a piece of text. A writer today needs to be aware of this. Were a writer to stop paying attention to the changing marketplace, and the things expected of them, then they’ll be less useful as a writer.

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          Ditch the outdated and equip with the better

          After reviewing your skills and knowledge, you’ll be able to decide which should be ditched and which should be improved. It’s like throwing away old tools and devices that don’t work or are no longer useful, and replacing them with new, better ones.

            A careful evaluation of things in your life and your skills can be extremely useful. With it, you’ll be better able to see what might need changing or adapting, and what might be worth forgetting about.

            So although it is impossible to predict exactly how the world will change, with consideration of your skills and a desire to adapt, you’ll be able to find that you’re able to stay ahead of a changing world.

            I know it can be easy to become content, at the same time, pushing yourself and seeking change can be tough. But ultimately, this is something that can’t be sustained.

            Reference

            More by this author

            Brian Lee

            Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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            Last Updated on December 5, 2018

            How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

            How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

            Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

            We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

            How do they do it?

            By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

            1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

            There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

            If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

            2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

            Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

            According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

            Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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            3. Demand Learning from Your Team

            CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

            “The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

            His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

            Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

            “We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

            Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

            4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

            Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

            Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

            • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
            • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
            • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
            • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
            • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
            • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

            5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

            Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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            Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

            • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
            • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
            • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
            • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
            • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

              “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

            Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

            6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

            The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

            Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

            You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

            7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

            Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

            But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

            On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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            • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
            • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
            • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
            • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

            8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

            Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

            When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

            9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

            The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

            What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

            Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

            10. Empower Your Employees

            Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

            They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

            Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

            You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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            If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

            11. Nurture Your Company Culture

            Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

            Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

            However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

            Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

            Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

            Be a Leader, Not a Boss

            Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

            However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

            In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

            Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

            Reference

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