Caution: Skill development

Did anyone ever caution you about your skill development choices? Do you think that all knowledge is valuable and will allow you to connect the dots later in time? Steve Jobs thought that.

I’ve had time to think quite a bit lately about this topic. Five months out of work has me questioning my personal and work related abilities. Maybe it’s not a good thing to focus on the road taken and not taken. Or perhaps it’s highly relevant to not waste any more time.

I worked for a time doing desktop publishing for a small print shop. All types of customers came in: academics, small business owners and more. A professor once asked my colleague and me (both English majors) how we got started working at the company. Somewhere along the line, typing skills put money in our pockets and helped us through school. Combine an aesthetic sense, and the next thing you know we’re a bit higher in the administrative model. The message that day was to be watchful about the skills developed and where they take you. You can see this dot connection yielding a positive or negative result.

At around 12, I got my first guitar. I loved folk music, learning about 10 chords, strumming and singing. In high school, I got an opportunity to learn classical guitar. Over the years I put sporadic bursts of time and energy into getting traction. Without dedication and patience, this is a hard skill to further. Recently, I’ve been listening to more folk/rock songs. I wonder what my musical life would be if I hadn’t taken the classical detour. I may have developed a style that better reflects my musical aesthetic and temperament.

Today I face an endless array of job choices in the marketing arena. The technology and tools are dizzying in quantity and purpose. Everyone wants to measure everything within seconds, every company wants the most compelling, focused copy for their audience, and specialty agencies for ad purchasing and negotiation abound. Where will I focus my learning to get a piece of the new flavored pie being offered?

Choosing, using a filter of caution, is critical. Saying “yes” to something will automatically say “no” to a different path. Time is finite. I don’t lack gratitude, but honest reflection holds equal weight.

We are taught that nothing is thrown away and all experiences add value. If we are honest, we could have been, and should be, more cautious about choices in the first place.

Image by Daniel Kirsch from Pixabay

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