I think it’s an appropriate time to talk about the importance of being a lifelong student. If you want to stay ahead of your competition you have to ALWAYS be learning something new in your field.
The reason that many people underachieve in their careers is that they become complacent with what they’ve learned to get where they’re at. But you can’t do that!
Learning is the minimum requirement for success.
Like I said, every industry is constantly growing; tactics are always changing, the amount of data to analyze is expanding, and competition is getting more fierce. This means that your knowledge must also continually increase to keep up. Your ability to expand your mind and strive for lifelong learning is critical to your success. By dedicating yourself to learning, you can get ahead in every aspect of your life. All it takes is commitment.
There are three kinds of learning that you can acquire to help you become a student of life:
- Maintenance Learning
This kind of learning keeps you up-to-date within your field. Many people think that reading an occasional book and keeping current with blogs and newsletters is the equivalent of adding to their education.
Maintenance learning is the same as checking the stock market reports each day to find out the sales prices of various stocks and securities. This information does not add to your knowledge of the companies, the market, or the investment potential of a particular stock, but it keeps you up to speed.
Doing this type of learning is similar to light physical exercise. It won’t increase your level of fitness, but it will keep you in shape.
- Growth Learning
This kind of learning adds knowledge and skills to your repertoire that you did not have that enables you to do things that you could not do previously. We’re blessed to live in a time with so many innovative thought leaders, so incredible continuous learning material is never too far out of reach.
You can find this information by doing a quick search online and discovering podcasts, blogs, books, online courses, etc. that can give you great ideas. (Hint: my blog is one of them)
- Shock Learning
This kind of learning contradicts or reverses a piece of knowledge or understanding that you already have. It can be extremely valuable if you act upon it. The “shock” can give you insights that can enable you to either take advantage of a major change in the marketplace or guard against a serious reversal.
Unfortunately, most people are creatures of habit. When something happens that is completely unexpected, they choose to ignore it in favor of the old information with which they are comfortable. Don’t be afraid of change. Always change and adapt.
Class is in session:
- Read at least one hour per day in your chosen field. One hour a day will translate into approximately one book a week which is approximately fifty books over the next twelve months.
- Read and subscribe to the trade publications that contain articles and stories relevant to your field, such as Forbes, Fortune, BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal. One good idea is all you need to gain a competitive advantage.
- Invest 3% of your income back to yourself for upgrading your knowledge and moving towards personal development. 3% does not seem like a lot, but the impact on your life and career will be so extraordinary.
- Read books written by experts in your field. You should only read books written by people who are active practitioners of their craft.
- Take a speed-reading course to learn how to accelerate the amount that you read and retain. You will learn how to get through more reading material in two hours a day than many people get through in a week.
Remember when we were in school and our teachers would ask us what we want to be when we grow up? Well, now I’m asking you, as a lifelong student: how do you see your life changing after you commit to a life of continuous learning?