Burnt iron has a very distinct smell. In a foundry, the burnt iron leaves black dirt so thick it must be shoveled.
Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB
I can smell it now as if he was standing right in front of me. I can see the white circles around his eyes when he removed his glasses and the permanent ring around his hair from his hard hat. Dad was home from work. Albert Schmidt was a foundryman. Even though he was a manager, he spent much of his career working long hours in black dirt with 2,000+-degree liquid metal. Dad was the best at what he did. Years after his retirement, the phone rang occasionally with a question from the foundry.
Once we were on our annual cross-country trip from Detroit to Saskatchewan in our 1971 Ford Galaxy. Dad had a “waste” problem at the foundry; he was determined to solve it. He hired a young man who had just started a career in speaking to help train his staff. Dad wanted to change the culture of his plant from “it can’t be done” to “let’s find a way.” During the long trip, dad listened to tapes from this young speaker... over and over. The man had a funny accent and told funny stories.
At that young age, I had no concept of what dad was doing. Today, though, I see that dad had a learning mindset. Harvard Research suggests that only 10% of people have a learning mindset. A person with a learning mindset is defined as one who will seek new knowledge and learn on his/her own. Sadly, today 90% of people will not seek new knowledge unless it's a requirement of their job.
If you have any doubts that a learning mindset is necessary to stay competitive, a quick fact check should clear that up. According to Workopolis research, here are 10 jobs that won’t exist 10 years from now:
Social media expert
Toll booth operator
Video store clerk
Newspaper delivery person
And Forbes magazine reminds us that these jobs didn’t exist 10 years ago:
Social media/online manager
Elder care services coordinator
Search engine optimization specialist
User experience manager
Obsolete is an ugly word. Obsolescence is the state of being which occurs when an object, service or practice is no longer wanted even though it may still be in good working order.
Will you let your skills become obsolete? Or will you adopt a learning mindset and invest in your future?
Here are four things you can do to invest in your career:
Subscribe to Ted Talks on YouTube
Attend seminars or webinars
Take a class
What you do is not nearly as important as your commitment to always be learning. I’m not suggesting you do a one-time “data-dump.” Learning is a process, not an event.
I’ve always wanted to know more, to dig deeper. My professional career is focused on the mission of thinking big and making big things happen. I can trace those beliefs back to that long car ride when my dad introduced me to his new friend, Zig Ziglar. Dad credits Zig Ziglar and his training for helping him improve the plants’ operation — reducing waste by 87%. The investment in learning is cheap compared to the cost of ignorance.
Jeff Schmidt is the SVP of Professional Development. You can reach him at Jeff.Schmidt@RAB.com. You can also connect with him on Twitter and LinkedIn.