You think getting an early MBA sets you on the path to success? Think again. It is no longer a viable way to make an entry into the job market. The skills that you acquire in college, may possibly becomes obsolete (and probably even irrelevant) in about 5-10 years. But don’t sweat (and definitely don’t trash your MBA degree yet). Look at this as an opportunity to grow again as a professional.
Even seasoned experts in their respective fields have had to up their game, including their skills. This is exactly what pushed Paul David Hewson (AKA Bono Vox, lead vocalist – U2) to embrace lifelong learning (or as we like to call it, #LearningForLife), which led him to produce a new album, which in turn led to a better creative endeavour – the release of U2’s album, Songs Of Experience, in December 2017.
Bono says, “Machines, when put on pause, cease productivity. But humans, when put on pause, begin a different kind of productivity.” And this is exactly the method U2 adopted to create this album. “The pause on our album gave us a chance to play our songs live in the studio, strip them down to their bare essentials without any studio trickery to see what we really had”, he said. “That was a great gift to the album, even though in some cases we didn’t want to run with the live feel, we learned so much about the songs and that helped with cohesiveness.” Bono here refers to an important trait of #LearningForLife – boost creativity by understanding the importance of pausing.
In a real-world scenario, pausing from work may come across as a counterproductive method, yet this practice has proved it’s mettle time and again. It promotes balance in a professional’s life. Once every now & then, the human mind needs some downtime in to generate new ideas, solve problems at hand and focus on the next big thing. When you find yourself stuck on a problem or facing a creative block in a project, take your mind off it by doing something absolutely mundane. Head out for a walk, take a shower, play Pictionary. Changing a pattern, or even the environs, might help in an unexpected way, even if it may seem pointless at first.
There are also 2 other skills one should learn when embracing the #LearningForLife philosophy – embrace a lifelong passion for learning, and focus on developing soft skills.
So let me ask you again. Do you think pursuing an executive MBA in India (or anywhere else) will constantly help you up the career ladder, and that you’ll never have to worry about upskilling? If you’re still thinking yes, you might want to start thinking differently. In today’s day & age, professionals need to upskill on a yearly, monthly & sometimes even on a weekly basis.
This is why discovering a lifelong passion for learning will set you apart from the crowd and will make you a way more desirable choice in your industry. You’ll be able to predict (and set) trends, and face moments of uncertainty in an ever-changing marketplace. Being a lifelong learner will get you to a point where your work will be closely connected to the changes that are happening around the world; changes brought about by digital globalization and will help create the new foundations of society.
Thomas Friedman, an American journalist & author recently wrote in The New York Times, “We are in the middle of 3 climate changes at once. First, there is climate change and the knowledge that the time where we could fix any environmental problem either now or later, has shifted to needing to be fixed now. Next, the climate of globalization has changed. The world is no longer just interconnected; it is now interdependent. Lastly, the climate of technology has changed. People are adapting to a world with Cloud Computing, Artificial Intelligence & Big Data. These changes have created a business environment where you can analyze, optimize, prophesize, customize and digitize anything.” In fact, Friedman also says that if your company is not taking advantage of these 5 business practices, then your business will be at a real disadvantage.
Another important part of embracing #LearningForLife requires you to implement & refine your soft skills throughout your career, well after the completion of your MBA. Soft skills are definitely the reason why you’ll gain leadership positions & experience career advancement. Being able to receive & provide constructive feedback, work in teams, use Emotional Intelligence, better time management, and being able to solve a problem in different ways are not skills you acquire in a classroom (or at a webinar), but you pick them up on the job, and only observation & experience will help you better hone these skills.
One thing that you can be sure of is that as technology advances, more & more tasks will be outsourced to machines. But the ability to (smartly) communicate, resolve issues within teams & create meaningful partnerships is something that machines will never be able to do. One must acknowledge the fact that unfortunately, many professionals across the globe, lack these skills. More & organizations (and their senior leadership teams) are constantly looking for folks, “who know how to dress up, show up, sit up, learn up and, occasionally, shut up in order to do their job properly,” says Friedman.
Here’s what to highlight (and what not to highlight) on your resume. Being in a club in college or having done volunteer work in charities for the community will take things up a notch. Activities like these show you in a light that you have high standards for work ethics and high levels of soft skills, which clearly is a huge requirement in today’s work scenario. This is also a sign that you are not just someone who cares about the business part of the business, but you are also someone who has the ability to care about the CSR part of the business.
Being a lifelong learner is one of the best investments you can make for your professional growth. That, and always being open to changing & adapting with the changes of the job market. Always be ready to upskill & have a deeper understanding of what’s changing now, or what may change in the near future. So taking a leaf from Bono, to make your skill set better, sometimes it’s probably best to do nothing, and take a pause.
Pause to find a quiet place where you can rest your mind, meditate, un-think, and let your imagination lead you through the day. And yes, be sure to match your skills with your ability to forge new relationships and nurture those you have already established at your workplace. Sometimes, the best solution is to look away from your phone/desktop/laptop, and have a face-to-face conversation. Who knows, that your next kickass idea may come from a brainstorm session over coffee & conversation?