Woes of an Autodidact
I call myself autodidact. I teach myself…at least I used to…
I come from a domain that has no professional schools to go to. My friends and I have learned on the job, from our mentors and from Master Google. When I was young and busy teaching myself, because there was no other way, I was pretty smug about it. My pride of having learnt on my own grew with my confidence in the skill.
And then I looked around. It wasn’t just my clan who was autodidact, the poor chaps who had gone to business schools, and engineering schools, and medicine schools and all sorts of schools to get a professional degree were also continuing to teach themselves.
And then the profound words of my mother struck me…Learning never stops. (Well my mother is another story. She was busy earning degrees till I passed out high school. And so, I refused to believe her. I was the quintessential teenager). My father would add to that profound statement and say “You earn, only if you learn”. That made sense even then. One had to earn.
I had refused to take medical entrance exams telling my father that I don’t want to study till I am 30. I don’t have the patience. I will find other ways of earning and be noble in my own way. Recently, I said to him, I am way past 30 and still studying…hmmm, not studying but learning. And you can well imagine the “we told you so” smile on his face.
I also heard myself cribbing that one has to learn and know so much to stay on top of things, and there is no time!
I work a minimum of 10-12 hours a day, sometimes more…well, we all do. I am a mother…big deal! Most of us are mothers and fathers. I would like to believe I take care of my house…to which my sympathetic husband says, “don’t worry about it, you do not have the time” and I get guiltier and start cleaning up whatever I can. And then there is bank, insurance, loans, grocery, helpers, drivers, electricians, plumbers and so many more to manage…I am not even talking about friends and family who I am dying to meet.
Wait a minute, I was talking about learning. Where did I lose it? Well this is how I have been losing it over the years and pushing myself consciously to make some time and failing miserably most of the time.
It is not that Master Google has vanished from my life. He is very much there but I am much busier with work and personal agendas to read up all that he piles on my table. At work, they show me a physical and virtual library of learning treasure. I look at it, drool and get back to my work. I don’t have the energy or the mind space to log in, sit back and go through an hour of learning. I am sure, the moment I do that either a meeting notification will pop-up and I will be preparing for it in my head, clicking Next on the screen. Or there will be heart-wrenching shouts of Mumma!
Classroom trainings are organized, and I use all my tactics to wriggle out of it because I know, if I put in 4-8 hours there, I will have to go sleepless maybe for two days.
My organization has the very best of learning planned for me and I am all for it. I do understand the importance of learning and growing. I can’t stagnate but here I am…trying to push the learning rock up the hill.
And then I also go around giving the lecture of continued learning to my team. In all honesty, I tell them that there is no better way to skill but to teach yourself. I am also guilty of looking at bad work and saying “this generation”. I guess my seniors said the same for me, or maybe not (hoping not).
There is definitely a difference in the generation who opened their eyes to Internet and options galore. They were accessing it on their parent’s laptops, ipads, tabs, phones and then came Flipkart and Amazon with smart prices for smart phones and placed internet and app in their hands. Now they have so much to do…play, watch, chat, tweet, shoot, upload and to top it all grueling office work for 10-12 hours. I am sure they are also thinking of ways to learn smart and grow. They are thinking of it much more than me because they also know the truth of “learn to earn”. They are smarter and savvier.
But as seniors and supervisors have we made learning any easy for them? Have we given them options that they can willingly pick, learn and contribute to the much needed skill pool? Or are we only complaining?
If that e-learning and class room trainings are not helping me much (I am the wiser, matured one here) can it help the generation on –the-go? Unless, I block out time, lock them up in a room and take away their phones. Unless, I play Mumma to them too. Unless, I decide to take a hit on delivery dates and productivity budget. After all, something has to be sacrificed to the God of quality!
Not just for them, have I made learning easier for me. Is there a way, my team and I can spend just five minutes of quiet time and learn a concept and how to apply it (because that is all we get; those five minutes in spurts everyday)? Or amongst all the clutter, can we get one good message that will give me a different perspective, or kindle an idea?
During that 15 minutes ride from office to the day-care, is there a way for me to know the essence of a management concept or summary of a good book?
While waiting for a client, can I assess my knowledge and skill and learn more about it?
After a rigorous hour of work or a grueling discussion, can I play a game with my coffee and practice my skill with it?
Oh, but please don’t ask me to be online all the time. If you put that criteria, I will continue to change data plans till I give up on plans and on learning and I go back complaining to my father.
If that is the issue all of you are dealing with for yourself and your team, Smart phone learning can be the answer. It is there on your and your team’s palm.
All you need to do is swipe the lock, tap the learning application and get snacking on your learning nugget.
Learning continues, while you commute, wait for a meeting to start, during lunch or coffee breaks, or even when you step out for a smoke. Your phone is with you and so is your learning snack.
Think about it!