Sunday, August 18, 2019

Learning How To Better Do Our Jobs is Widely Available for Free Online, Yet We Fail to Take Advantage.

Good morning.
And the beat goes on...............:

Most of us have little aspirational lists of long term things we mean to do to improve our lives.  Sometime we even write them down, but that's usually not necessary because these things are generally big ticket items, generic in nature, and there aren't that many on the list.  Occasionally one of these items might appear on an annual New Year's Resolution list, but for the most part, they exist by themselves.  While we mean to get to these items, we rarely do, so items on this list can remain for long periods of time.  We are familiar with things on this list precisely because the list has been around so long.  This is the list of the things that will truly improve our lives and which we know for certain we ought to do.  Yet we don't.

The reasons we don't deal with these seemingly high priority, important things we ought to do to improve aspects of our lives - our health, our jobs, our relationships and more - are all too familiar:  we're too busy, we're procrastinators, we've not ready yet, they can wait, blah, blah blah.

The most familiar of these "To Do" things include improving our health in some way - exercise more, lose weight, eat healthier, stop smoking, cut out the bad stuff and the like.  Even when we check off things on this list, they still remain in some form.  So we can join a gym and commit to a work out routine, and actually incorporate that into our daily lives, but the bigger goal of doing things to stay healthy remains on the list.

Another area that has its own sub-heading on the list includes improving our skills level, learning new things that make us better at what we do, acquiring information and knowledge that better equips us to "perform" on the job.  This area includes our nascent and only somewhat formed idea that learning is suppose to be lifelong.  Most of us are already "educated".  We went to college, we have degrees, we know stuff, or at least, we 'learned' things.  But in the back of our heads, we have it ingrained that there is a lot we don't know that we should, that knowledge is power and that it is constantly changing, and so we should, really, at the least, refresh every so often.  Undeniable truths every one.  We theoretically subscribe to the notion that truly smart people continue to learn so as to stay at the top of their 'professions'.  We intuitively understand that honing our skills level not only insures we will be prepared for an ever changing future, but that it is probably essential for our ambitious career trajectories.

And so we mean to act on that.  It's definitely on our long term improvement list.  Right near the top of the category anyway, is our intent to take some courses that will augment and supplement the body of knowledge we got from our formal education, and that which we've gained from practical experience.  Only we don't.  We mean to. But we postpone it.  Put it off.  We''ll get to it, but right now is not the opportune time; there is too much going on, too many things happening.  There simply isn't the time.  Life, including work, tends to get in the way.  It's too complicated to do.

Not for everyone, of course.  There are those individuals who seem able to juggle all the demands of life, and still fit in that professional development, continuing learning thing too.  And they are the ones that seem to often succeed at work, who advance, who move up.  Damn them.  How do they do that?  They obviously belong to the superhuman class that prowl the halls and make us feel guilty.

The thing is, of all the items on the unspoken list of things we mean to do to improve our lives, and especially our work lives, the continuing education one is very likely the easiest to move from notion to reality.  Online learning is everywhere, its easy and it's largely free.  Virtually anything you want to get better at, anything you want to learn how to do, how to master, is available online at the click of your mouse. What you want, when you want it.  Improvement on your terms.  You don't need to wait until its offered to you by your organization.  You don't need to wait for any invitation.

Want to be a better fundraiser?  Want to improve your marketing skills?  Want to learn to be an effective team leader?  Want to be an effective public speaker?  Want to understand the ABC's of programing?  Want to be an effective advocate or lobbyist?  Want to learn how to move up the management ladder?  Want to understand how to go from an idea to a reality?  It's all here. And a lot more.

So maybe this is the time to take some action on that "This Will Definitely Make My Life Better" list item - learning stuff that will help you in your job and your career advancement.

There are literally dozens, if not scores, of online sites that offer and aggregate all manner of courses to teach you virtually anything you might want to know, and the vast majority of them are unconditionally and absolutely free.  And the available courses include hundreds of courses directly related to  your work as a nonprofit arts administrator in fields ranging from finance to marketing, advocacy to fundraising, leadership to programming.  Whatever it is you do, if your want to learn more to do it better, that knowledge is available to you right now.

Here are just three sites that offer online courses that you might like - many free, other low cost (and if you google free online courses you will find a lot more):

1.  Coursera:     35 million learners, 150 university partners, 2,700 courses, 250 specializations and four degrees. In addition to free courses, Coursera offers courses generally ranging from $29 - $99.

2.  edX:   more than 20 million learners and 2,400 courses from a majority of the top-ranked universities in the world. Open edX is the open source platform behind edX, and it's open to educators and technologists who want to develop new educational tools. In addition to free courses, edX also offers courses for a fee.

3.  Udemy:  30 million students, 100,000 courses in 50 languages, 42,000 instructors and 22 million minutes of video instruction. Unlike other online education platforms driven by content from colleges and universities, Udemy allows content creators to curate their own courses and teach them online.  Many free, others priced low.

So perhaps this might be a good week to finally, at least begin to, address that item on your secret list.  Up your game, increase your skills level, improve your career trajectory options, be more productive, gain confidence.

Good luck.

Have a great week.

Don't Quit