Work to learn, not to earn


Shrenya Soni

Psychology Associate

‘Excellence का पीछा करो, कामयाबी झक मार के आएगी’ which translates to “Follow excellence, success will come running behind you”. These are the famous lines from a major Bollywood movie named ‘3 Idiots’. This movie focused on the loopholes of the Indian education system and how our personal outlook towards learning can help us give ourselves an edge over the rest.

As kids, we are taught how to learn by rote in order to get ‘good marks’, the ultimate aim of education. We focus a lot on learning through theoretical knowledge than practical implementation. So many people are dissatisfied with their professional life because they are working to simply earn and not to learn and grow.

One may ask, isn’t earning a livelihood the ultimate aim of education? Well, yes, but earning should come as a result of learning, not at the expense of it. So many young professionals, at the early stages of their career focus on getting a slightly better paying job, but are unable to move forward a few years later in their career as they have no solid skills that help move into leadership positions.

The aim of the first job is not to get that expensive phone or car, but to create a foundation on which an entire career can be built. That happens when we take the job as an opportunity to learn, not as a burden to be tolerated to earn money.

So what exactly are the benefits of changing our outlook towards working to learn? Let’s go through them categorically:

1. Improved cognitive abilities: In today’s complex technological and business environment, it is important to keep our brain razor-sharp. The human brain is created to learn, think and function accordingly; and the cognitive abilities of the brain keep improving with continuous learning. On the other hand, in the absence of learning, it stagnates and starts to deteriorate often leading to cognitive impairments.

For long-term success, the development of the brain’s cognitive abilities to solve a wide range of problems is of utmost importance.

2. Moving up the value chain: When we stop focusing on the money and instead focus on learning, we start positioning ourselves through the constant acquisition of skills. Though there is a dearth of entry-level jobs in most places, there are many places where high-skilled positions are lying vacant! By making sure that our skills are more upgraded than an average person, we allow ourselves to shoot for bigger opportunities.

3. Increased productivity: When we have a personal interest in learning, the work productivity goes up by itself, because we are learning for ourselves, not for anyone else. Hours seem to fly by when we take an online course on blogging, graphic design or product management.

So many times, we are not able to give our best because we are doing things out of compulsion. We study so that we don’t fail, we work so that we don’t get fired. But when we learn something to challenge ourselves and grow, our entire mind and energy is directed to that purpose.

4. Opening new avenues: Most of us are on a linear career path. We graduate, work for a few years and then move for higher studies. But the world is changing faster than we can imagine. It’s not always necessary to spend years sitting in a college campus to learn. We can learn while we are working through part-time and online courses. This can allow us to move to a new division or role within the same company and even other lucrative opportunities in other companies!

Rancho from ‘3 Idiots’ told us to run behind excellence- to learn whenever and wherever possible in order to excel in what interests us. By focusing on excellence, we become valuable for society and employers.

Money is not a problem in today’s world for those who are skilled.

Therefore, let’s set small hurdles for ourselves in the beginning, keep jumping over them and then our hard work will surprise us by taking us to the heights of success. Therefore, let’s keep learning, keep working and monetary gains will flow with time.

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Nishi Soni
Such a refreshing article! Everybody should read this.👌
Very true. Throughout one's career, specially in the early stages one must focus on acquiring skills (tech, communication, teamwork etc.) rather than looking at the pay alone. A mistake at the early stages can become costly later 😇🙏