Outstanding performance is one of the keys to career and life success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success, 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success, and my latest book Your Success GPS. There are three things essential for becoming an outstanding performer. 1) You have to remain technically competent. The half life of knowledge gets shorter every day. Become a lifelong learner to remain technically competent throughout your career. 2) You need to set and achieve high goals. Set milestones to help you keep on track with your goals. Focus on your goals every day. Do at least one thing every day that moves you closer to accomplishing each of your goals. 3) You need to be well organized. Manage your time, stress, workspace and lifestyle well.
Walk the Talk Company, the publisher of Your Success GPS has just informed me that the book will be available very soon. I’m excited. I like writing Walk the Talk handbooks. I had a particularly good time writing Your Success GPS. I can’t wait to hold a copy in my hands.
To pique your curiosity and whet your appetite, here’s an excerpt Your Success GPS on lifelong learning…
Technical Competence Through Lifelong Learning
You probably have spent a lot of time in college or graduate school. You might be tempted to think that you needn’t keep learning. After all, isn’t learning what you need to know to function in the world of work the whole point of going to school? Not really. You just learn the basics in school.
Your education really begins when you start working. Thomas Carlyle once said, “What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.”
Thomas Carlyle lived in the 19th century. If he were alive today, he might have amended his statement to say, “The internet is the greatest university of all.” It’s true. So many of the great books, as well as other career and life success information, are available on line. The important thing is to keep learning – how you do it and where you get your information is secondary.
The best thing about graduating from college is that you finally get a chance to begin learning. I have a huge collection of books on a variety of subjects. These books are the first place I turn when I am looking for information to post on my blog, when I am working with my executive coaching clients, when I am preparing a speech and when I am designing a training program.
The half life of knowledge is getting shorter and shorter. If you don’t keep learning, you won’t even keep up, you’ll fall behind in the knowledge that you need to become an outstanding performer.
As you’ve probably guessed, my best common sense suggestion for becoming a lifelong learner is simple. Read. Read technical journals. Read trade magazines. Read business publications like “The Wall Street Journal”, “Business Week”, “Fortune” and “Forbes.” If you think they’re too stodgy, read “Fast Company.” Read your company’s annual report. Read your competitors’ annual reports. Read your local newspaper and “The New York Times”. Read news magazines like “Newsweek” and “Time.” Read business and industry blogs. Read books. Reading is the best way to stay up with what’s happening in business, in your industry and in the world.
There are other things you can do to keep learning. Attend seminars. Join the major groups or trade associations for your industry. Attend their meetings and participate. Volunteer for committee work. Become known locally in your field. Take a class at your local university. Use your company’s tuition reimbursement program to get a free undergraduate or graduate degree.
Your education doesn’t stop when you graduate, it begins anew. There are many ways to keep learning. Decide which ones work for you, and then follow through. Outstanding performers are technically competent. They stay technically competent because they are lifelong learners.
As Albert Einstein said…
“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong learning attempt to acquire it.”
The common sense point here is simple. Successful people are outstanding performers. Outstanding performers are lifelong learners. They learn something new every day. In today’s fast paced, highly competitive environment, if you’re not learning, you’re not standing still – you’re falling behind. Be inquisitive. Learn everything you can about your field, your company and your industry. Keep learning. In that way, you’ll become a truly valuable and indispensible person in your company – someone who flourishes in his or her job and is first in line when it comes time for promotions.
That’s my take on the importance of lifelong learning. What’s yours? Please take a minute to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us. As always, thanks for reading.