How Do We Keep Learning?

When I was a kid, my dad would watch Jeopardy after work and it was like he knew every answer. I often wondered how he just knew everything.

And as I get older, I see all these people around me who are so smart and filled with knowledge, and I wonder how they know so much.

When I was introduced into the corporate world, I was 22 and bright-eyed and had no freaking idea what I was doing. I started with an internship because I had very little confidence in trying to find a job in the communications field when I felt like I knew nothing about it. I thought an internship would teach me, and it did.

It gave me the confidence to go into my first real job. There were not a lot of growth opportunities, but there was a general understanding that I was new and would need to be taught.

That general understanding followed me into my next job, but when I got my promotion it all seemed to disappear. I was used to people wanting to help me, teach me, but when I took my next position people wanted results and they wanted them fast. It felt unfair to me because when you step into a new role, it’s just that, it’s new. You can’t apply everything you’ve learned over the past few years and just expect them to fit the same way somewhere else.

As I get even older, I wonder when people stop wanting to teach you and start wanting you to know everything.

It’s intimidating to me because even though I continue to seek learning opportunities for myself, it’s really not the same as someone giving you their knowledge and experience. One day I will be the one making decisions, knowing everything, and not having anyone to teach me. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

13 thoughts on “How Do We Keep Learning?

  1. See if there is a mentorship or leadership program.

    I know exactly when the shift happened for me. It was the job title. My boss was promoted out of the University Webmaster role. I was promoted into that role from the Assistant Webmaster. With it came the responsibility to make the decisions that role handles. I was ready for it because I had been making those decisions for a couple years prior while my boss was preoccupied with other things.

    Transition management is too often overlooked. People are not trained for the new skillsets. Instead, it is assumed mastery of others means the ability to master the new. This is what leads to the Peter Principle where ‘people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”: employees are promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another.’

    In my work (no longer web design), I am pretty much always being tasked with projects where I have no idea what I am doing. As a Jack Of All Trades IT, whatever comes my way, I figure out how to make it work. Every one is different. Well, except for having the commonality that each is highly problematic which is how it gets on my plate. If it were easy, then someone else would have been tasked with it.

    Which leads to my main point. If no one has taught you, then there is a possibility there is no prescriptive correct way for it to be done. You were hired for the expected ability to figure out how to make it work. YOU are the Subject Matter Expert. Start with asking questions about what the goal looks like and what you have to start. Break it down into achievable goals. That will lead to more questions about the goal and resources. Ask for people, time, and tools you need. As you and management learn more, the goals will probably expand which is “scope creep.” Fight that with all your weapons. And research as much as you can at every step of the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know exactly how you feel. There’s an expectation that we should know what we’re doing, but if no one taught us a specific thing, are we just supposed to guess until someone tells us we’re wrong? And then if we ask too many questions, we’ll get labelled as lacking self-confidence. It’s a tough situation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Always remember this about promotions, especially early in your career — you won’t be ready … because no one ever is. You can be smart, and experienced and prepared as much as possible, but you won’t be “ready.” Promotions bring different variables into the ballgame, but you learn and adjust and figure it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve tried out for Jeopardy four times, and I got called back to audition twice. I haven’t been on the show yet, but my second audition is technically still active. If I don’t get called by December, then I’ll be eligible to start the process again.

    I think I missed the point of your post, though… haha… seriously, though, it’s hard for me to feel like I’m not the noob at everything anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That’s a really interesting topic, we have a new gal working at our office and they want results from her ASAP and as i talk to her i can see she doesn’t know what to do because she didn’t start the job they want her to finish. I can’t stop thinking about what you present on your post because that’s exactly how i feel about her. Like, how can she do everything if she doesn’t know how it all works yet? Such a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah, it happened with me as well. When we are completely new in something people often come and try to teach you. But after some times, everyone expects that you know everything and will keep up to their beliefs.

    Liked by 1 person

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