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Amanda Fawcett for Educative

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An open mind is the key to career success

For hundreds of years, scientists and astronomers believed that the earth was the center of the solar system. Then, in the 17th century, Galileo publicly argued for a heliocentric model, where the sun is at the center. The idea was officially rejected by the authorities of the time. Galileo was put on trial and sentenced to house arrest. His text was banned until 1990, a time when his worldview was undoubtable.

Why are we talking about this? Because it’s proof of three important life lessons:

  1. Learning new things is really important
  2. Knowledge changes you for the better
  3. You look pretty foolish when you don’t keep up

Knowledge irrevocably changes the world. It changes people and societies. Those who aren’t willing to learn, no matter how important or educated they may be, won’t keep up with the world. They’ll be stuck in the past, still thinking they’re at the center of the universe.

This is especially true for those working in software development. The industry moves so quickly and has such a profound impact on the world that continued learning is necessary for innovation and success. Learning, even after you land the perfect job, even after you think you’ve mastered all the skills, is crucial to your life, your career, and your happiness.

Let’s talk about five reasons why you should keep an open mind and learn everyday.

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1. Learning enhances your career

The more you know, the more value you have as an employee. Learning teaches new skills and perspectives that can lead to opportunities and promotions in the tech industry. The skills required to be a great software developer are always changing. In fact, studies from StackOverflow demonstrate that programming languages are always in flux. A willingness to adapt and learn is important for staying relevant in the field.

On top of that, careers in development address global problems and needs, which are responsive to issues like climate crisis, innovations in science, and social change. This means that your growth potential is very important to employers. Embracing emergent technologies and demonstrating a dedication to growth will help ensure longevity in your career.

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2. Learning makes you healthier

Continued learning is consistently linked with lower rates of depression, decreased stress levels, longer life expectancy, and increased feelings of life satisfaction. Studies in neurology show that learning can even slow cognitive aging. An open mind, it turns out, is an all-around boost for your health, mind, and body that will set you up for happiness and success in the long-run.

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3. Learning is essential for networking

Networking is more than just the exchange of information. It’s also about building mutually beneficial relationships. An open-mind will expose you to all kinds of people and perspectives, both in your career and personal life. Our world is more connected than ever, particularly for developers who work and communicate around the globe. Networking with an open-mind will help you improve skills, meet mentors, and seek resources that bolster professional development.

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4. Learning will make you more confident

Self-confidence is usually affected by your trust in yourself and your competency level. Learning new things helps with these barriers. If you feel more competent in your skills, you’re likely to trust your own abilities, and this boosts overall self-confidence. Learning empowers you to take problems into your own hands and speak-up when you know the answer. You’ll become more confident in conversation, more willing to take on projects, and more secure in coding interviews.

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5. Learning will make you more empathetic

Continued education strengthens your ability to communicate and understand others. Curiosity and listening are liked to a heightened awareness of other people’s needs and thoughts. Managers and executives, for example, rely on cognitive empathy to understand their teams and customers.

In the tech world, it’s also important to remain curious and empathetic. After all, coding is just another form of communication. The projects you work on as a software developer involve other people: your team, your boss, the people who will interact with your code. Empathy and learning lead to better, collaborative products that are more centered on human needs.

Empathy is useful at all stages of the development process: from designing a product, to working on a team of coders, to responding to problems. Don’t become locked away in your technology and forget that at the end of the day, your work is fundamentally about other people.

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Easy ways to learn on a daily basis

Continued education and daily learning are keys to success in your professional and personal life. Learning doesn’t have to burden your already busy schedule. Here are some tips for learning every day.

  • Read. Read books. Read current events. Read blogs. Read forums. There are so many out there: JSK, Hackernoon, Codeburst, Inc, StackOverflow. You could even try branching out to other fields through sites like Medium or TED.

  • Ask questions. You can learn tons just by leaning into curiosity. Ask your coworkers about their lives. Admit when you don’t know something. Asking questions will teach you, humble you, and make connections.

  • Find a mentor or become a mentor. Mentors play a pivotal role in learning and networking. And paradoxically, teaching is a really valuable way to learn. It forces you to think about your own knowledge and respond to questions you never thought of.

  • Learn a new topic. Take an online class. Learn a new coding language. Educative has just made all of our Learn from Scratch courses entirely free. You could get started with a new coding language at no cost to you. Who knows where it might take you!

To summarize: an open mind will help your career, make you healthier, build your confidence, grow your network, and make you more empathetic. Learning is important, so get to it!

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”
-- Galileo Galilei

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