It’s no secret that the world of work is changing. Gone are the days of learning a trade, showing up to work from 9 to 5, and gradually progressing up the ladder of a single company over the course of a long career. Success in the knowledge economy depends on adaptability, problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication—skills often neglected in traditional education and professional development.
Real-time learning is the key to success in the 21st century: this combination of foundational skills and intrinsic motivation is highly valued by today’s employers. Below are the 6 habits these real-time learners demonstrate, showing why they’re sought after by hiring managers in emerging and established career fields across the country.
- Cultivating situational awareness: The ability to identify problems before someone else complains, and to recognize opportunities independent of instructions from others.
- Demonstrating curiosity in the face of ambiguity: Rather than becoming frustrated by a lack of clarity, understanding that ambiguity is omnipresent, and pulling at threads to find the best path forward.
- Looking at an issue from multiple perspectives: Realizing that there is no single right answer to most problems, and that shifting your perspective is required when investigating a course of action.
- Recognizing patterns and making connections: Possessing the motivation and insight to take initiative and to see what others might not.
- Maintaining a view of both the forest and the trees: Broadening your outlook to take in the bigger picture, while still addressing practical concerns and day-to-day operations.
- Developing experiments and iterating: Combining a creative mindset with empirical data to make the best decisions.
These highly effective habits don’t originate out of thin air, and require a serious commitment at all levels of our education and professional systems.
If you’re a student, are you actively seeking out opportunities to hone these skills? If you’re the dean of a college, does your institution have mechanisms in place to teach and assess them? As a company, do you provide internships or professional development programs to cultivate these among your staff?