“Develop your intellect” was a phrase my English Literature professor said in every class during my Junior year of college. It seemed obvious and a little bit over-stated at the time. After all, we were in college doing just that. Nearly 20 years later, I want to share with you a few different approaches to develop your intellect, regularly.
I don’t think anyone interested in making a good living can just coast on what they know. Look at organizations like Uber and Airbnb. Taxi companies and hotels are realigning their business models to compete against companies that don’t own fleets of cars or real estate. The same is true for the individual. As technology matures, the need to refine your own skillsets continues to grow. I should point out that technology is not just impacting traditional IT personnel. John Deere, for example, is using automation, sensors, and the Internet of Things (IOT), enabling equipment to run autonomously in the field. See https://www.deere.com/en/technology-products/precision-ag-technology/. There are several ways you can develop your intellect to mature yourself and to prepare for your next opportunity.
Different Approaches to Develop Your Intellect
For me, developing my intellect has included a number of things. The first is formal education. I finished my undergraduate work in 2004. In 2006 I started at the University of South Alabama and finished my Masters in Computer Information Systems in 2008. Then in 2013, after my wife and I had 4 kids, I decided to pursue a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration. The next 5 years included coursework, comprehensive exams, and a dissertation. There are a few advantages to this approach including, a set cadence, accountability to follow-through, financial commitment, and long-term value. The primary disadvantage is cost, but it is possible to graduate debt free from a university if you are diligent about it.
Certifications are similar to Academic Development, but require less of a time commitment. They cost significantly less as well. Additionally, they have a narrow focus on one specific topic or a select few which makes them a bit easier to achieve. The primary disadvantage, which is different from a university degree, is that they require continued learning and re-testing to keep them current.
Based on a prior post https://thejoshstephens.com/whats-on-your-reading-list/, you already know I like to read. There are several advantages to reading. Books are cheap compared to structured learning like certifications and degrees. You can find books any topic of interest, and you can read reviews to figure out what books you may want to start. The downside in my experience is that it’s really easy to start a book with good intentions. It can be difficult to finish when there are so many things vying for our attention.
Unrelated Skills and Hobbies
There are several other ways to learn. I think it’s also important to look at other unrelated opportunities. Music, for instance, is very mathematical. Agriculture and gardening takes systems thinking and biology. Exercise and healthy eating can promote a better quality of life. My English Lit. professor was a tenured professor at the college. He also had his Pilot’s license and was working on his builders license. Find something that is intriguing that you can be passionate about, and pursue it.
I have been playing guitar since I was about 14. For Christmas my wife gave me a Ukulele, which I’ve since learned to play. I am using Duolingo www.duolingo.com to learn the Hindi language. I’ve also been remodeling my home which has brought a plethora (yes, plethora) of learning opportunities. I think you’ll find that whatever you do to develop your intellect will bring satisfaction and accomplishment in that specific area, while also helping other areas in your life as well.
I’d love to hear more about how you are developing your intellect. Please submit your ideas in the comments below.