Suppose you're an IT Professional that has access to dozens of vendor-specific certifications. Why would you care about a 6-month training program focusing on the latest research on digital well-being, neuroscience, psychology, coaching, and design? This article will explain why I took on this challenge and what I learned after graduating from the course.
We Are Not An Island
Some companies only care about technical skills when hiring people. But it doesn't matter how good you are at tech product A or B or what technical certifications you have; you'll be interacting with people. I learned two powerful, simple lessons in this course: to pay attention to what people say (beyond words) and be mindful when speaking. Some people like to jabber and brag about how much they know. But they often miss the point because they push themselves always to be talking - even when they don't know what they're talking about - and they never stop to listen and be present.
Being a valuable professional is not about how much you know. Nowadays, anyone can learn a new skill using the internet. It's about what you do. Your attitude. Your character.
And a good starting point for anyone is quite simple. Shut up and listen. You'll realize you're not the great water well of wisdom you thought you were.
Get to Know Yourself, Become More Productive
We like to talk about other people. Most of us are walking gossip machines, always judging people's decisions. But we don't devote time to think about our life. How are we using our time? What drives our behavior? How does our brain work? I learned the importance of becoming self-aware in this course, and that's the foundation stone of productivity.
If you want to be a more productive IT professional, you need to be aware of what is going on with yourself, your mind, and your body. How can you figure out what distracts you or makes you feel exhausted if you never cared about learning about yourself?
In the last decades, many productivity myths keep repeating themselves as singing mermaids on sea rocks.
"To be productive is to be able to multitask under pressure."
"Become more productive by using only your willpower."
When you're on a course that is backed up by science, these myths fall apart.
Teaching and Learning
It's becoming almost a cliché that IT Professionals have to be hungry learners. Most will get an opportunity to pass on their knowledge. To master learning and teaching, you need to understand how we learn, how we keep motivated, how our memory works, how we can be more creative, how we can recharge, and how to establish new habits.
After taking on the course, I haven't master teaching or learning.
But I did become a more effective learner and teacher. I feel I've transitioned from buying fish in the fish market to a beginner in the art of fishing.
Multidisciplinary Skills and Project Management
Not every IT pro has to deal with project management, learning methods, and the proper mindset you need to progress in a limited time frame.
The course taught me competencies and provided me with resources that made me understand how people react out of their comfort zone, not in a cold theoretical approach, but by taking part in real experiences. A big part of project managing is dealing with people's expectations and fears.
In the world we live in, I believe that it's essential to open your mind to learn new skills outside your comfort zone.
I know that some companies don't see this with good eyes, but believe me, doing it will help you become better in whatever you think you're already good at doing.
Tech: Read the Manual (RTFM), and Think
Finally, there's a caveat for IT pros who want to take on this course. It takes away your blind admiration of technology. I don't find [please insert the latest cloud resource] or [please insert the newest trend in programming language] as incredible as it used to be before I graduated. Don't worry. You won't end up throwing your computer through the window or planning to spend the rest of your life on a ranch. You learn to see technology like everything else, with all the good and evil.
It's ok to learn about new products and read the manual to see what features it offers. But what do you think big tech companies care about more? Creating a better world or making more money?
There are tech solutions used by corporations that have zillions of features. Some have overlapping layers of abstraction. It's like building a Lego with small pieces of Lego made of small pieces of Lego. Is it robust and practical sometimes? Yes. But it's also a crazy piece of art that can become a mess and leave you with an over architected solution.
I decided to enroll in this course because I wanted more than one more certification to show off. I wanted to become a 1% better human being and learn something out of my comfort zone.
How about you? What unusual step you've taken in your career?