…should be removed from your vocabulary unless it’s followed by the word “yet.” Here are two replacements:
“I haven’t learned that yet.”
“I’m not sure where to start. Can you point me in the right direction?”
“I don’t know how” presents a closed door. The other variations present an open one instead. “I’m not there yet, but show me the path.”
Just like other parts of a growth mindset, self-education is a reaction we can practice. Instead of an insurmountable wall, we can choose to see a challenge meant to be conquered.
It’s hard to find something I’m more passionate about than self-education. There are limitless learning opportunities available to anyone with an internet connection or a public library card. We just have to take advantage of them.
Explore, read, learn, and practice. Then, most importantly, teach someone else.
There were some frustrating nights and mornings spent staring at a computer screen hoping an answer would pop out at me. I read more StackOverflow threads than I would care to admit, and my Google searches grew more and more desperate. I wanted to quit more than a handful of times.
Genius is the ability to independently arrive at and understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person.
― Immanuel Kant
We’re born as self-learners. As children, we rely heavily on our ability to learn from our surroundings and the actions of others. As adults, however, it’s easier to pass the buck onto others and ask for help rather than to spend the frustrating hours, days, or weeks learning ourselves. Our innate ability to learn and adapt becomes dull.
When I posted my “Day in the Life of a Happiness Engineer” post, I had quite a few friends reach out asking how they could score the same type of job. Many of these individuals came from a completely non-technical background so landing a job in the tech industry seemed like a long shot. They didn’t have experience in tech, and it didn’t seem like something you could just “pick up.”
That, of course, isn’t true.
Regardless of your background, it’s completely possible to learn a new career field. Hell, it’s possible to learn anything. Perhaps more importantly, it’s possible without going back to school. Heading back to formal education is a knee-jerk reaction and isn’t necessary unless your intended career field has some sort of required credentials.
If formal education isn’t necessary, what exactly is the secret sauce to self-learning? Here are five keys I’ve put into practice myself.