Become a Lifelong Learner
Aside from actually performing the work you desire, this is the most important activity you can engage yourself in—learning. Books are a gold mine and wealth of information, highly underrated and at risk of losing significance (if not relevance) in this digital age.
In my opinion, books on self-improvement and personal development should be given priority over fiction. Although novels can be entertaining and relaxing, nonfiction books about personal development contribute directly to the improvement of the quality of life. It is also worthwhile to read books authored by the most successful people in your chosen field, and in that regard I also highly recommend biographies. You will be inspired by the lives of others who have overcome setbacks and failure in their lives to achieve greatness. Most people who have achieved great success in politics, business, and the spiritual realm have a story well worth reading.
In this digital age, tools such as YouTube and other internet video sources make educating yourself so much more convenient and cost-effective, beyond just watching a video on how to put together a newly bought crib or change the oil in your car. The key here is to be selective. Very selective!
You even want to have a plan in your head as to what type of information you want to learn about. Personally, I like the great motivational, leadership trainers as well as speakers who expound on personal-development or inspirational topics. But those have great relevance to me. Your choices might be something or someone completely different, and that’s what you should go for.
The main idea here is to emphasize lifelong when you seek out further educating or training yourself. That means it should be ‘’ongoing—daily, weekly, monthly, whatever.
In a year’s time, you should be able to look back at where you started and where you ended up, and be amazed at how far you’ve come in learning new life-changing ideas and skills.
To some degree, I am not a huge advocate of getting a college education, although I have a college degree myself. I sometimes think I got my degree to please my parents’’ expectations. I have nothing against a college education or degree, but there are other career-building options available now, such as technical or vocational schools or community colleges that fall below the four-year commitment and yet can open a door to a great-paying job and career.
Certain professions require higher-level educational certification and training, no question. Doctors, lawyers, and some types of engineers fall into the category of professions that require not only a bachelor’s degree but usually some sort of advanced degree as well, such as a master’s or a doctorate.. However, this is not always the case in the business world. To be successful, one can educate himself or herself with books, courses, and by modeling the behavior and good habits of successful people. There is one catch—you must then apply what you learn, and act on it.
One of my favorite motivational speakers is Larry Winget. I once saw him demonstrate a principle by asking his audience of businesspeople if they were “‘ready, willing, and able”‘ to be more successful. He concluded that many people were ready and able, but most were not willing to do the work required to be highly successful.
Winget added that ACTION was most important to implementing the activities that would take someone to a higher level of achievement and success.
Benefits of Continuous Learning
Most leaders are avid readers. They are readers who read with purpose and strategy. They have specific types of books they like to read, and more than likely they have compiled and continually update a personal list of titles they will read. Personally, I like nonfiction books pertaining to personal development and business. I also like reading the news from the Wall Street Journal and business news from Harvard Business Review and Fast Company.
Brian Tracy, one of my favorite personal development trainers, says that highly successful people are constantly learning new skills from reading and courses. The idea is to never stop learning.
I have a reading basket by my living room chair with books and magazines in the order I plan on reading them. I usually have one primary book I’m reading, and then if I ever want to take a break, I look at a business magazine.
Reading in the evening is good because it fills the mind with material that the mind digests overnight.
I never read horror stories or watch horror movies. I once heard a pastor say once that he would not want to read or see anything on screen that he would not want to see happening in his own life. The principle of ‘Good stuff in, good stuff out’ is very powerful. The key is the power of choice..
I once looked at a list of the top one hundred books sold or in circulation of all time. I very selectively picked out a very few that were of interest to me and have either read them or have them in line to read.
Continuous learning can also be facilitated by watching valuable online instructional videos on YouTube. Look for the most valuable instructors and topics, and take notes while you watch. You can refer back to these notes, preferably within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, to foster your best retention so as to eventually use the ideas in business or your personal life.
To be successful, you should view life as a continual ‘university’ experience.
Audiobooks are another excellent source of learning. I use them in my ‘commuting’ university (my car), where I am almost always either listening to a CD to learn something new, to reinforce affirmations from Scripture, or to pick something up from a motivational or personal-development teacher.
One of the benefits of continual learning is having good, fresh information in your head—information you can use for whatever scenario you might find yourself in on a daily basis. This could be a face-to-face meeting; a lecture or talk you are giving; a sales presentation; or a phone conversation.
Brian Tracy also had a stat I thought was revealing: highly successful people are educating themselves on something new approximately ten hours a week.
Biographies are significant reading for leader wannabes because they are about the lives of people who have had an impact on history at some level or in some field. Many times you discover they endured a lot more adversity than you realized. In most cases, you find out there is no such thing as an overnight success. Sometimes that overnight success only came about fifteen years or so after whoever it was got started.
Learning new information can make you a leader in your business or industry. It can also take you to new industry designations or certifications. Imagine your brain is a sponge ready to soak up all the useful information you can find that is of interest to you. Do that, and you will be on your way to ever-higher levels of expertise and accomplishment!
Copyright@Brion T Connolly 2020