Upskilling is a soft skill that enables you to increase your skill level.
Once we have invested the time and hard work to learn something, it is all-to tempting to think that what we know will be good enough indefinitely. This might be true for a few years, but eventually, your level of knowledge will be insufficient for modern demands.
All sufficiently complex skillsets evolve, and this is especially true in technology fields. As practically all fields today are technology fields in one way or another, all of our current skill sets need to evolve. It is unreasonable to think that a technology skill you acquire today will not need to be upgraded 10 years from now, much less 20 or 30 years down the road. The need to improve your skills is the unavoidable recurring cost of claiming to have the skills you do.
The progression of your skills in a particular area can be thought of as stages you pass through on the road to mastery:
- Novice – You know very little, and to do anything, you need to follow predefined steps. An example would be the very first time you tried to bake a cake from scratch, and needed to measure every ingredient very carefully and follow the recipe verbatim.
- Competent – You have learned the basics, and can now take on tasks with a bit more confidence. For example, you may still need to measure the ingredients for your cake, but no longer need to refer to the recipe.
- Proficient – You are comfortable taking on different variations of the same type of task. For example, you can make any cake you like provided you know general information about their ingredients and how it is prepared.
- Expertise – You now have a deep knowledge of your skill and a vast amount of real world experience. For example, if you are missing an ingredient for your cake, you know which substitutions to make to achieve whatever final result you wish.
- Master – You have achieved the highest level of skill possible. For example, you can now write your own cookbooks with your own unique recipes for award-winning cakes.
Every profession today requires dozens, if not hundreds of skills that are used in combination to accomplish whatever task lies before you. It is extremely unlikely that you have achieved mastery in all of the skills that you utilize daily, yet we do not attempt to deepen our level of expertise as we believe we are “good enough.” The issue with this thinking is that “good enough” is only relative to today, and in the future, it may very well be nowhere near good enough.
Deepening our skill level serves a practical purpose of increasing the odds that our current skills stay relevant in the future but also serves to provide fulfillment and a deep sense of accomplishment. The feeling of being “good enough” is far inferior to the feeling of mastering your craft, and there are few feeling as good as being a master of your craft.