August 9th, 2012 | Category: WhiteRhino
Smart kids do their homework. Not because it’s easier for them (though it’s true sometimes it is), but because that’s how they get smart. Newsflash: that doesn’t end at school.
It’s a shocking and somewhat overlooked truth that the more you work at something, the better you become. For some reason though, too many of us think this is an optional extra once the clock strikes five and let the habit fall off quicker than you can throw a mortar board in the air after graduation.
This is not to say you don’t learn while you work. This can be the very best way to learn and many a professional will confess they learnt more in their first year of work than their entire uni degree. However, when you’re at work you have a job to do, and oftentimes this doesn’t involve stopping to check what’s going on around you.
Some industries, heavily regulated and highly accountable, require this without question. Unfortunately however, many do not and most creative industries fall into this category. Along with the freedom to build, design, write and create whatever we like, comes a gaping void in any kind of universal standard. It’s a very hard thing to qualify (borderline impossible), which is why it isn’t done, however as a result we aren’t required to do anything to keep up save turn up to work.
This is where the problem lies. I’d venture to say there’s not a job in the world you couldn’t get better at with a little extra effort out side of work. Moreover, those in creative professions should know that theirs is a fast moving industry and digital developments redefine the boundaries every single day. It’s for this reason that the harder a job is to define, the more you need to know about the landscape in order to keep your footing.
It’s not that you need to know everything. That’s about as useful as having ten arms to drive a mouse, but it is important to know what’s going on. What are your peers and colleagues doing? Where is your industry heading? Who are the ones leaping ahead and who trails behind? What conversation is taking place around you? This is the information you don’t accrue sitting at your desk eight hours a day.
This is the information you have to hunt for, and when you start to collect enough, it’s the information that starts to give you a look at the bigger picture. Information sourcing is no longer restricted or difficult for anyone with Internet access, so reading the news, compiling blogs, asking questions and finding social forums should be routine practice for most of us. More than that, if you love what you do, it should be what drives you.
The need to know more, to understand and to seek is fundamental to being good at what you do. Smart people may be born smart, but clever people learn how to be. So next time you can’t muster the motivation to read the industry newsletters piling up in your inbox, consider learning how to try it and give one a go. You might be surprised what a little extra insight does when you hit the desk the next day.