Daily Inspiration: “The most important skill you should develop is the ability to continually master new skills!”


“The most important skill you should develop is the ability to continually master new skills!” – Futurist Jim Carroll

I spoke to several hundred CIOs – Chief Information Officers – for community colleges at a dinner talk last night. The goal was to cover the future of education – but I didn’t talk about that! I spoke instead about the future of careers and knowledge – because that will define the future of education!

And to get into that, I started out by posing the question — “what is the nature of the world our children will graduate into?

That’s the key question that I think about when I prepare for a keynote to a group of educators and teachers — “what will the world be like for our current generation of students, and what do we need to do as educators to prepare them for the challenging realities that they will face?”

You can do this by thinking about what they are faced with:

  • Rapid knowledge growth

As of late, I’ve been speaking of “ever-growing sapiential circles” as the core trend that is driving rapid knowledge growth, and which is having the biggest impact on education.

The phrase comes from Warren Bennis, a distinguished professor, at Southern California’s Marshall School of Business — he was referring to how the knowledge of a group tended to increase exponentially as new members were added to the group. What we are witnessing in the world today is a dramatic increase in our own human sapiential circles as a result of global connectivity.

Quite simply, we have connected the minds of people around the world who share an interest in a topic or issue — they become a sapiential circle. And the result is dramatic — for example, the amount of medical knowledge doubles every 78 days; it is said that half of what an engineering student learns in their first year is obsolete or revised by the time they graduate.

As such, there are some fascinating issues at work here, with the key point being that teachers need to not only teach children knowledge, but they need to teach young people how they can continue to absorb new knowledge in the future.

In other words, we need to teach them how to learn. That’s why one of my favorite phrases continues to be “learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century.

  • Rapid career change

The rapid rate of knowledge growth is leading to a rapid career change – – hence, the Australian observation that “65% of children in pre-school will be employed in roles and jobs that don’t exist today.” Given my understanding of change, I’d happen to believe that to be true.

I often work to ensure that educators understand that we must be prepared to engender in students a mindset that involves adaptability, and flexibility; a mindset that embraces and does not fear constant change; a mindset in which they will view a future of constant change with wonder and awe, rather than concern.

Here’s an interesting statistic — a survey of consulting engineering students revealed that most of them thought a long-term career was one that lasted from 2 to 5 years….! The kids are already thinking about this — we can instill in them our wisdom and guidance as teachers in order that they can do it right.

  • Career extinction

Workers of the future will change jobs 19 times during their lives — and parallel careers become the norm as people extract themselves from professions that are becoming extinct.” That’s from the Daily Telegraph — and I think I’m already witnessing career extinction occurring all around me.

Educators need to know what is happening; how careers go extinct; how people survive extinction; and how they use extinction to thrive. Knowing this will once again help them in preparing young people to cope and thrive in a world of constant, relentless change.

  • Just in time knowledge

Related to this — I’ve often explained that the incredible challenges young people will face come from the rapid rate of change that envelopes us — and with so much change, we need to be prepared to learn darned quickly. Hence, we need to provide the skill of “just-in-time” knowledge” — I explain what it is, why it will be so critical … and what the elements of “just in time knowledge” are, and how we can bring this idea into the classroom.

An attitude for going forward is the key!

Yet change is inevitable, and I can certainly incorporate a good bit of discussion on attitudes to change, how to deal with change, and how to turn change into an opportunity.


THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.