There was a man, who trained as an engineer. He was so good, that he made a first class. Everyone called him Mr. Brainy. It didn’t take long before many companies started headhunting him. He chose one good one; began to make big money; he was so comfortable. He got married and had two lovely children; a boy and a girl. Everything was simply wow and okay; he had no financial, family or material problems. He stood out among his peers; he was envy to all who knew him. But suddenly, the internet was discovered, and everything started moving from analogue to digital; software became the order of the day. This man was deeply rooted in the analogue system; he found it difficult to change. At first, he played down the direction that the digital age was going, but before he knew it, it was running faster than he imagined. His organisation, due to competition, began restructuring to meet the new ways of doing things, but the man was stuck to his dated methodology. In spite of the long years of commitment to his organisation, he was compulsorily retired when he couldn’t adapt to change.
Things are changing daily; mono skill is danger to survival. Whatever you were yesterday, you should either expand its knowledge today, or divert into other fields in order to increase your broadness. These days, employers are searching for people with extra factors as the competition for the small job spaces increases daily. Even admissions to some sacred disciplines in Universities, and into certain Universities have not been spared from this high level competition. The other day, I read an interview granted to The Guardian Newspaper by the head of one of the most contested disciplines in a grade A University in United Kingdom on the process of selecting students for the department. He said, first, every potential candidate must score As in the required subjects, and in addition, be able to show the extra factor that makes them eligible for selection. These extra factors include the ability to excellently communicate in written and verbal forms, exhibit some tendency for entrepreneurship and other forms of skills that make them stand out. With this, it is evident that having a mono skill isn’t enough to make a man outstanding in this digital age.
How can you develop multi-skills?
You must have a flexible mindset: not too long ago, I called one of my uncles that is highly educated. I told him that I was going to send him a text message over certain information, and he said, ‘please don’t send a text, post a letter because I don’t know how to access text messages’ Yes, one can understand that he’s old because he’s already in his eighties, but there are lots of people within my age group that can’t send an email, even if they have all the privileges of technology. In organisations, some people fear change because they’re not flexible to learn, but without flexibility, development cannot take place. If we all get stuck to yesterday, by today, we’ll all be expired. So, programme your mind to have a teachable spirit. That is your first step to development. Don’t think you’re too old or too dumb to learn; you are only as old as you think.
You must determine your needs: you need to determine the kind of information or skills you need in order to progress your career, profession, business or education. You don’t need every skill; you need something that is relevant to your lane, and there are loads of them. If you are a plumber, what are all the skills related to plumbing, whether it is your area of specialisation or not? If you are a secretary, what are all the skills and software related to your job? Determine everything surrounding your pursuit or goal. As a writer and blogger, I have realised the importance of search engine optimisation and analytics in not just improving my domain authority but also, monitoring my competitors; so, I embarked on learning how to do those things. Today, there are lots of things I can professionally do even if they weren’t originally my discipline. I rose to do them in order to keep my relevance in the new age, and also, to remain useful to the world at large.
Order your skill-needs according to their levels of importance, and take them one by one: after determining the skills you need to push your goal beyond where it is, you must learn to prioritise their urgent importance because you will realise that there are lots of things you need to know. Realisation sometimes can make you feel overwhelmed; a feeling of overwhelm can be counterproductive. So, arrange your needs according to how urgent and relevant they are. Ordering your needs gives you peace of mind. For instance, if your skill-needs are typing, interpersonal, driving, emailing, and speaking; ask yourself the one that is most urgent to you; let the most urgent be number one on the list, followed by the second most urgent.
Begin your learning immediately: someone may say, ‘I don’t have the money to pay for the programme?’ Listen, you don’t need to go to any organised institution to acquire knowledge. There are millions of free information out there that you can begin with. Leverage what is free before going for what isn’t. In studying search engine optimisation, I began reading and practicing what other bloggers on that field have written, without paying a penny. After that, I signed up to do an online training at $25 monthly. I highly recommend www.lynda.com for skilful online trainings; I have found it very useful. If you really want to advance your skills, you have to begin right now!
Discipline yourself to practice daily: learning without practicing leaves you only on a theoretical level. Many people can talk a subject but can’t do the subject. It isn’t skill if you can’t do it. When I started learning how to design the interior of a book, what I did was to offer to do other people’s books for free. I used their books to perfect my skills. Same thing happened when I was learning how to do copyediting or copywriting; I practiced with other people’s works. Now, I charge to do those jobs for people. You need to practice to become perfect in what you do. To discipline yourself, have a timetable; follow it like a religion.
In conclusion, I say, ‘stick to your goal, but understand that your goal has many skills linked to it’. Depending on other people always to help you carry out assignments that you should have been able to do on your own won’t do you any good. One day, those people may get tired of you. Even if they don’t, they may be indisposed at that very moment you need them. What does it cost you to develop a multi-skill? Discipline and commitment; that’s the only price you pay!