100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 34. Build Different Skills

Don’t stop learning. Don’t stay stuck in a single career, it’s boring and limiting. Learn different skills, possibly from completely unrelated fields. You never know when life will ask you to use them. Besides, it’s a lot of fun.

Our modern society thought us that our chances for a higher payout are bigger on the narrow niches. While this might be true, nobody can guarantee that a narrow niche will survive for ever.

Life changes, society changes, jobs are changing so do yourself a favor and embrace change. Your today’s hobby may become your tomorrow job. By building different skills, you are building your own opportunities.

Acquiring different skills is like learning new languages, only you can make a living out of them. 

Luckily, it is easier than ever before to learn new skills because of the internet. If you want to earn a new degree, simply sign up for an online program.

Of course, there are prerequisites, but if you have them, you can get started very quickly. If you are curious about earning a Masters in Social Work, for example, look for information on admissions, required references, cost, and anything else that will help with your decision. Also, you do not have to leave your current job or attend campus full time to acquire this additional knowledge because you can study in the evenings and on weekends until you finish your degree.

How To Build Different Skills

During the last 6 years, after I sold my first company, I’ve been playing a lot with this. And even before that, while I was managing my company, I used to learn something new every few months, being it a skill related to management, or just a new programming language. Some of these skills were useful, some not. Regardless of their usefulness for a specific context, my constant exposure to this process made me learn something really precious: how to learn something new.

And, for me, it all goes down to only 2 qualities: curiosity and stubbornness. As long as you have these two, you will always have a foundation for learning something new. The whole process is much longer, of course, and there are many effective techniques you can use, once you embark on this path. But if you don’t have curiosity and stubbornness, those techniques will be just useless.

Curiosity is a weird thing. It’s a healthy discomfort , summoned by a mild boredom and fueled by enthusiasm. It’s really hard to explain curiosity. But, as hard as it is to explain, I found it, over the years, to be a fundamental ingredient for my emotional health.

If you find yourself lacking curiosity, you’re in the red zone. The danger zone. You may begin to think that you know everything, which is basically the beginning of your end. Or you may think that whatever is out there, laying undiscovered in the dark, is pointless, because the world is like it is, and nothing else matters.

Well, you can never know everything. There is always something new to be discovered out there, and if you find yourself lacking the curiosity to find out what it is, then you may be on the verge of depression.

And then, there’s stubbornness. Which is, basically, the ability of not to give up. The strength to stay there when the going gets tough. The serenity to take heat from others, while doing whatever you set your mind to do, incessantly. That’s stubbornness.

You may call it endurance, persistence, tenacity, I prefer to call it stubbornness.

This, combined with curiosity, will get you wherever you want to. Curiosity will make you discover new stuff and stubbornness will help you master the necessary skills to do that stuff.

Two Simple Tricks To Fuel Curiosity And Stubbornness

The good news is that both curiosity and stubbornness can be enhanced. They can be learned, practiced and improved. Them, by themselves, are new and useful skills. Special skills, like I said, which can be used to build a foundation for learning even more skills.

So, let’s start with stubbornness. To make a long story short, if you want to build up your stubbornness, start running. Long distance running, if possible. On a side note, any physical activity, done constantly, will get your through, but running is the cheapest and most affordable of all. You just have to put on some running shoes, get out and start running. That’s it.

Since I started to run, 3 years ago, I finished 4 marathons, 3 half-marathons, an ultra marathon and countless other smaller 5k or 10k races. It’s probably the most rewarding thing I incorporated into my life, lately. And I just recently realized that its implications in my life are way over the physical health – which is, by the way, better than ever.

Running is not only about moving, about putting one feet in front of another. When I run, I burn out negativity. I can see how, if I don’t run for a few days in a row, some cloudy emotional field starts form somewhere inside myself. And if I still not run, this field will start to put pressure on every other aspects of my life. But if I run, doesn’t matter how far, doesn’t matter how fast, this field is dissolved. I find few, if any, negative feelings that cannot be dissolved in a 10k race.

And that feeling of lightness, the entire process of dissolving that black pressure, translates in all the other areas of my life, being them about business, personal relationships or whatever. I just understand, at a very deep, yet visible level, that, if I stay enough on the track, everything will dissolve. It really helps with crisis, you know.

And then, there’s curiosity. For that, I have another trick: tango. Yes, argentine tango. I wrote a lot about this on my blog, ever since I started to learn, dance and, eventually, teach, 3 years ago. It was another beautiful journey, that is still going on. So, if you want to know the bits and pieces of argentine tango, and why I find it an indispensable tool in my life toolkit, go ahead and read the archives.

But how tango can fuel curiosity? Because tango is about connection and improvisation. It’s different every time. No matter for how long you’ve been dancing, no matter how experienced you are, every tanda will be different. Each follower has her own way to respond to you, her own dance vocabulary. It’s up to you, as a leader, to explore and understand that vocabulary, to start sketching a grammar on the move, with your steps, and to start telling stories in a language made on the spot, that only you too will understand, and that will last only for a tanda.

And, the more you do this, the more you like it. At some point, you will start to chase that experience. You will feel more and more drawn to new partners, to new milongas, to new tango contexts. And it keeps growing, you know. Because every time it’s gonna be different.

So, I think now you start to understand. It may be that you have different activity sets for stubbornness and curiosity. Maybe running and tango are not for you. But as long as you have them, as long as you’ll be pushed forward in life by curiosity and sustained by stubbornness, you’ll be fine.

further reading

Build Different Skills

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