Acquiring Unexpected Skills – Secret of Success by Mel Rosenberg - מל רוזנברג - Ourboox.com
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Acquiring Unexpected Skills – Secret of Success

I'm also a scientist, musician, inventor and lecturer. During the daytime I am co-founder of Ourboox. In the evening I Read More
  • Joined Oct 2013
  • Published Books 1489

I am a great believer in acquiring as many skills as you can. Learning new things at any age keeps your brain agile. The more you learn and the more skills you have, the better you are at associative thinking (what I call “Thinking Between Boxes”).

 

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Most people think that we should focus on learning skills that appear to have relevance to what we want to do in our lives. I suggest the opposite. Most people learn the ‘relevant’  skills. If you want to be amazing, better to learn some “irrelevant skills” that few others are studying. The ones that are unexpected, unanticipated, surprising and apparently without any long-term benefit. Sometimes, they make the huge difference.

 

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Learning these unanticipated skills changed my life. But forget about me. Didn’t that happen to Steve Jobs when he took that course in calligraphy at Reed College? (you might say that he really did see the writing on the wall…)

 

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He studied calligraphy…

-Not because he would receive credits (he wouldn’t).

-Not because he thought it would change his life.

-Just because it sounded interesting. In his own words:

 

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“Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this…

…None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac.” 

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Here is how I learned something unexpected that contributed to my life.

Here’s what happened.

6

A French teacher at our school (Hillcrest, in Ottawa), walked into one of our grade nine classes to ask us the following question:

WHO WOULD LIKE TO LEARN RUSSIAN NEXT YEAR?

What?

WHO WOULD LIKE TO LEARN RUSSIAN NEXT YEAR?

 

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Почему?

(why?)

Because.

Think about it. Ottawa, the cold war, spring of 1965. I didn’t know any Russians. I didn’t know anyone who knew any Russians. I didn’t know anyone who knew anyone who knew anyone who knew Russians. Russia and Canada were in the midst of the Cold War. They had nuclear weapons pointed at Ottawa. Learn Russian?

Почему?

8

We used to picket the Soviet Embassy in Ottawa to “Let My People Go.” But no Russians ever exited the building when we were protesting, and we never so a single diplomat.

So why study Russian? I asked myself. And then I realized that the answer was not ‘why’ but ‘why not?’.

Why not study Russian?

And that’s how I learned Russian.

9

We (there were fifteen other crazy kids who said yes) studied Russian for no reason at all. Just for the sake of studying something new, unexpected, unanticipated, irrelevant.

And that is exactly the point I am trying to make.

10

We learned the Cyrillic alphabet. Fifty years later I discovered that I could read Greek! We studied beautiful stories by Lermontov and Chekhov which I still remember.

Incredibly, the year after I came to Israel, the Russians did decide to let my people go. There are now over a million Russians in Israel. And yes, I can speak Russian to as many of them as I can.

11

My brother-in-law studied Spanish and Portuguese decades ago JUST FOR THE FUN OF IT. A few years ago it helped him get a high-level position, in his sixties, selected over younger and more otherwise-qualified youngsters. His command of these two languages landed him a coveted position.

 

12

And I already told you about the poetry contest in seventh grade that made me a poetry lover for life.

 

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So learn as many things as you can. Especially the ones you hadn’t been considering. Here are a few wacky suggestions of my own.

 

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And remember: every job that you had growing up taught you something about life. Especially the really ‘odd’ ones. Here is the ebook.

 

 

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