Sep 182016 2 Responses

Skill Stacking: Learn Today What You Need Tomorrow

Parents brag when their toddler skips a developmental step. They assume their child is a prodigy, so he didn’t need to crawl when he could learn to walk. They boast to their friends and assume their child is on the fast-track to brilliance.

Developmental experts don’t brag on such children, they worry about them. Skipping a key milestone isn’t impressive to the expert–it’s cause for possible concern. Experts know that skills often stack on top of one another. To skip a skill is not to be on the fast-track to success, it’s running the risk of having stunted growth.

Skill Stacking

Knowledge often builds on knowledge. A child must learn the alphabet before they can learn to read. So we teach them the song, teach them the letters, introduce basic words, and then teach them sentences. One skill builds on the other. (See: What Einstein Knows About Weight Loss)

This isn’t just true for children. Skill stacking continues through every aspect of life.

You must learn the basics of an industry before you can understand the intricacies of how important decisions are made for your company.

You have to learn how to drive by yourself before introducing the added distractions of passengers in a car.

You have to learn how to lead yourself before you can effectively lead others.

Life is a continual progression of skill stacking. What you learn today is used tomorrow. Some of tomorrow’s lessons can’t be learned until you develop the skills of today. Instead of rushing through our current season, we should slow down and learn the lessons we are being presented.

When We Fail to Learn

Failing to learn key skills can have a lasting impact.

When people seem stuck, they have likely failed to learn key skills during a season, so they can’t move past that season.

I see it in marriage. The early years of marriage are vitally important. If a couple can learn to properly deal with the early stresses in marriage, they will build a strong foundation for the future of their relationship. As they learn to navigate through a burnt meal or hurt feelings over an anniversary gift gone bad, they are building the skills which will help them be a team in raising teenagers or dealing with a negative diagnosis. (See: When Your Marriage Feels Stuck)

Many marriages collapse under the weight of stress because a strong foundation was never developed. Rather than skill stacking through the years, they coast and then suddenly try to learn how to communicate or support one another when times are difficult. Some lessons can be learned during difficult times, but they are acquired far easier when the difficulties aren’t as heavy.

Skill stacking is why high school and college can be important times in personal development. A high school senior might think life could never be busier. For them, it’s the busiest they have ever been. But their parents know all too well that time pressures will only increase for their child. It’s important for a young adult to learn how to handle a variety of time commitments during this season so when career, marriage, and children enter the picture, they will know how to prioritize and make wise choices.

It’s good for a young employee to have lofty career expectations, but the individual must be careful that their future desires don’t cloud their current work. They might be on the path toward success, but if they don’t learn specific skills in their early years, their career will be stunted.

Embrace Today

The concept of skill stacking should give us a deep appreciation for our present circumstance. Whatever is happening in our lives, the situations present an opportunity to learn important skills so we are prepared for what comes next.

  • Learning to be content while single will make us a better spouse.
  • Developing the skills necessary to be a good employee will prepare us to be a better boss.
  • Embracing the humility of a current failure can protect us from pride in a later success.

Wherever you are, there are lessons to be learned. When we fail to learn those lessons, we are stunting our growth and limiting our future potential. (See: What to Do When You Don’t Have a Clue)

I often speak with students from junior high to high school to college. During Question and Answer sessions, someone will inevitably ask what advice I would give them. I often answer, “Embrace this season in your life.” A junior high student doesn’t get to make many choices about how they spend their days–the government demands 8 hours of education. But they should embrace those 8 hours and learn everything they can. They will never regret doing so.

Why do we think we are any different? Whether you love your current life or you don’t, learn everything you can because that knowledge will never go to waste. Who knows what skills you will want to learn tomorrow which can only be learned if you develop specific skills today?


2 Responses to Skill Stacking: Learn Today What You Need Tomorrow
  1. […] 2. They must continually grow together. A healthy relationship is like a tree, each year adds anothe...
  2. […] inspiration for this article is found here, here and here. Background image courtesy Decoist –...

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