Learning is what most adults will do for a living in the 21st century (Lewis Perelman)

Very true and, to many people, very distressing. I see a lot of faces fall when I tell clients that they have to become meaningfully computer literate, that they need to gain a further skill to ease their transition into a new sector, or that they simply need to master PowerPoint because it is dangerous to rely on anyone else to care as much about your presentation as you.

We used to operate to a fixed model of education for the first 20 or so years of life, followed by work for the next 40 or so, and those who gained further qualification along the way in their working lives were the exception not the norm. But now the pace of change in the world requires us all to be learners all the time. I was talking with a colleague recently about the range of tools I use extensively now – Dropbox, Vimeo, Twitter, Linkedin, iCloud – that simply did not exist in my life five years ago.

Not so long ago, I used to spend a fortune on stationery and couriers. I had to, just to get the job done. With dial-up internet and tiny inboxes there was no way to get a large presentation file to a client short of burning it onto a CD-ROM, sticking it in a padded envelope with a compliment slip, and calling a courier to bike it over to that client. Hello Dropbox and Yousendit and Gmail, bye bye Mr Courier …

Learning is not optional anymore, it’s a Darwinian necessity and for many of us that requires a significant mind-shift. Here’s what I say to clients with downturned mouths, who are not relishing the prospect of having to learn a new skill, or master a new piece of software:

“You were born naked, wet and hungry. You couldn’t walk, talk or control your own hands. Somewhere along the way you learned to run, read, do mental arithmetic, drive a car and operate a phone. You did this because you, or someone close to you, decided that these things were important. Well, guess what …?”