I’m a strong believer that one needs to keep learning and to not get content with the knowledge they have. This can come in the form of new experiences or challenges but should be seen as a learning opportunity. Throughout school we have a structure in place to help us learn but after we graduate we have to take the responsibility ourselves. Unfortunately, many people don’t and even take pride that they haven’t read a book since college.
As more and more of the rote work becomes automated it’s important to develop the creative mind set that can take topics from a variety of fields and blend them together to create something new. The irony is that our education and professional systems are becoming more and more specialized. As our knowledge of an area becomes deeper it’s harder to be a generalist and we end up focused on only a few areas and skills.
My solution is to read as much as a I can across a variety of fields: fiction and non-fiction, classics and modern fiction, even the occasional textbook. The goal isn’t so much to recite everything from memory as it is to plant some remnant thoughts in the back of my mind that may end up being useful in the future. It’s the difference between not knowing that there’s an answer to a question and knowing that an answer exists. The latter gives you the ability and confidence to find the answer whether the former gives you an exuse to give up. The other benefit of this cross-disciplinary approach is that you get great at identifying patterns. These act as a shortcut and make it easy to absorb new information as well as spot patterns in the wild.
These days it’s too easy to get our knowledge bite-sized through the various social networks, articles, and headlines but that information is fleeting. The way to really absorb information is through focus and being able to spend more than a few minutes on a particular topic. Otherwise it’s just wasted time and effort.