When I speak about education and learning, I don’t take for granted that you’re very young, and still need to require basic skills in the given area. Quite on the contrary, actually, I assume that you’re a smart person, who, regardless of age and skill set, is eager to learn new things or keep yourself up-to-date. This is an all-together different type of person compared to a Freshman, because in fashion you never stop learning.
Therefore learning and acquiring new knowledge and skills shouldn’t be considered some sort of lack in our professional preparation, but rather our fighter instinct and passion shining through, and driving us towards new goals. And, contrary to the idea that some day, you will ‘know the necessary stuff’, life is teaching us a lesson (in the true sense of the word), as different phases in our lives call for different abolities to handle them.
While we’re still children, we forced to make some choices about what subjects to study at school. Later, this turns into an existentialistic choice about the path to choose in life starting with university and – hopefully – leading to a professional career. When you’re about to graduate, you will stress about landing your first job. When you have landed your first job, you want a better job. When you have a better job, you want a really fat pay check. Once you get the fat pay check, you will most likely have some sort of life crisis, as you know have it all – from a professional point of view. Then you will most likely do one of three, or a combination: 1/have a family (if you have someone to have kids with), 2/take a lover (if you have someone to cheat on), or 3/start learning new things, and setting new goals for yourself. I recommend 1 or 3 or a combination.
Because what do you do, when you reach your goals? You fall asleep in your life or invent new ones. New ones will automatically help new things, but it’s the falling asleep that’s dangerous – especially these days.
Today, as opposed to ‘the old days’, your career wont necessarily peak at 48, and you wont necessarily do one thing your whole life. In the Post-Capitalist era, anything can happen depending on how you move forward, who you know (not from birth but through the path, you carved yourself in life), and the journey you signed up for has so far been. Opportunities will continue to arise, and changes happen so fast, I think, it will be almost impossible these days to do the same thing all life. The word focus gets a new meaning with having an epicentre and building continuously around it.
So what does this mean? It means, we need to be prepared, and improve our skills in the shape of Lifelong Learning. I have only worked in the fashion field, and I can guarantee that in fashion you never stop learning. What I like about the word Lifelong Learning is its essence of being for life. You will never graduate and be done. Education, on the other side, sounds like a limited space in time, like something that happens in a university, through self-study, or at work, and to make it even worse; it can sound a bit boring. Lifelong Learning sounds more like meeting challenges head-on, and like something you deliberately chose to do.
Lifelong Learning is described as “the ‘ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated’ pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. Therefore, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability, rather than competitiveness and employability”.
Lifelong Learning is perhaps also the antonym to arrogance, as it’s hard to be a superior being, whilst at the same time admitting to having a lot of things to learn and improve on. Now – it’s double nice.
As always, the choice is ours.
From my Global Office in Copenhagen listening to Wildwoos Flower with Reese Witherspoon (who I love), I wish you all a wonderful weekend.
When Witherspoon won the Oscar for Best Leading Actress in 2006 for her role in ‘Walking the Line’, she told how was very inspired by June Carter, and how she had apparently often answered, when people asked her how she was doing, that ‘she was just trying to matter’.