“Learning is not compulsory, neither is survival.”
Peter Zwaik, business executive
In the U.S.A., as in many countries, schooling is compulsory for a set number of years. And that’s good.
But way too many people come to the stupid conclusion that when school’s over … they don’t have to learn anymore. Of course, they DON’T HAVE TO … unless they want to be successful.
Without exception, successful people have an unquenchable thirst for continuing education. They want to keep on learning. And they know they HAVE TO keep on learning to get to the top and stay at the top … whether that be in their career, their marriage, their body, or anything else. As Michelle Labrosse, a project management expert, notes, “People who make it to the top of the mountain take great joy in learning all the way up to the summit.”
Author Jim Rohn takes it a step further. He says, “Learning is the beginning of wealth. Learning is the beginning of health. Searching and learning is where the miracle process all begins.”
I reinforce those insights in my two-day “Journey To The Extraordinary” program. I share the research that clearly indicates the most effective people know their success, their wealth, and their security … past, present, and future … are all tied up with their learning.
In “The Naladiyar,” an ancient text, it says, “Learning is the best of all wealth; it is easy to carry; thieves cannot steal it, and tyrants cannot seize it; neither fire nor water can destroy it; and far from decreasing, it increases by giving.”
That being the case, let’s take a look at you and your approach to learning. So let me ask you a few questions.
=> 1. Are you coachable?
I often ask my audiences this question. I want to know how open they are to the ideas I’m going to give them, and I want them to examine their own state of being.
So I’ll ask them, “How coachable are you today? On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, with 10 being very open, receptive, and coachable, how would you score yourself?”
After they’ve done that, I’ll ask them to think about how honest they were in answering my question. I’ll talk about that for a few minutes. And they begin to realize how they’ve been lying to themselves … possibly for years and years. They begin to realize that whenever they’ve heard something they didn’t understand or disagreed with, they’ve tended to check out or close down. They haven’t been very coachable in the past.
I’m sure you know lots of people like that. They live their lives in a comfort zone, refusing to let any new or challenging ideas get inside themselves. And as a result, they never reach their full potential of success.
Other folks are somewhat more coachable and a bit more open to new ideas. But they don’t apply the new ideas appropriately.
It’s like the man who was walking through a hardware store and came to a shelf with an item he did not recognize. He stared at it for a while, and eventually asked the clerk, “What’s that thing?”
The clerk answered, “It’s a vacuum bottle.”
“And what does it do?”
“It keeps hot food hot and cold food cold.”
“What a great idea,” said the man. “I’ll take one.”
The next day at lunch, the man proudly displayed his purchase to his co-workers. “This is my new vacuum bottle,” he told them. “It keeps hot food hot and cold food cold.”
“What a great idea,” said his friend. “So what are you having for lunch today?”
The man replied, “Chili and Jello.”
So ask yourself, “How coachable are you? How open are you to learning? And are you sure you’re using the new information correctly?” Be gut honest with yourself.
As Cliff Schimmels notes, “It isn’t what you know but what you are willing to learn” that counts the most. After all, a computer can be upgraded. Can you?
=> 2. Do you have a plan for continual learning?
Many people do not. I see it all the time in my work with audiences across the world. I’ll meet a person who is 40 years old, but he does not have 40 years of experience. So he keeps on doing the same dumb things over and over again. He doesn’t have any idea how to learn from his experiences.
Other people fail to have a reading plan that could advance their learning. What I find absolutely outrageous is how little some people read. And no, novels, newspapers, and most magazines don’t count. I mean real, education-oriented, life-enhancing books. The outrageous truth is … even after a high school and college education … most graduates don’t read more than a book a year.
That’s a recipe for failure. In “The Five Major Pieces To The Life Puzzle,” Jim Rohn says, “Failure’s most dangerous attribute is its subtlety … If we have not bothered to read a single book in the past ninety days, the lack of discipline does not seem to have an immediate impact on our lives. And since nothing drastic happened to us after the first ninety days, we repeat the error in judgment for another ninety days, and on and on it goes.”
That’s right. On and on it goes … until one day you’re passed over for promotion … because you seem to be a bit out of date. On and on it goes … until your spouse leaves you … because you never seemed to learn what it takes to make a relationship work.
So I ask again, “Do you have a plan for continual learning?” As Rohn concludes, “Far worse than not reading the books is not even realizing that it matters.”
And lastly, I would ask you…
=> 3. Do you have a system for learning from others?
You see … experience is a great teacher. But you won’t live long enough to learn all the lessons you need to learn from plain experience itself. That’s why truly smart people … highly successful people … take lessons from others. As Peter Christakos from South Carolina notes, “A wise man learns from his experiences, but a wiser man learns from others’ experiences.”
So how can you do that? Simple. Pick out some really wise people and spend time with them. I make sure I do it all the time, and it’s made a bigger difference in my life than you could ever imagine.
For example, I spend 6 days every year with a group called Master Speakers International, arguably the eight best speakers in America today. They’ve taught me more about business than any MBA degree ever could.
I spend one morning every month walking the beaches of southwest Florida with 81-year old Dr. Sidney Simon, the best teacher I ever had. He continues to teach me the most effective ways to get my message across.
I spend some time every week with Nick Hoty … who came to this country as a Greek immigrant … speaking no English … and having nothing but the clothes on his back. He became the CEO of a major real estate company, and his example of persistence, hard work, honesty, ethics, and spiritual maturity guide me in my decisions every day.
And the list of people goes on and on. I’ve learned that the most successful people learn from other people, so I want to make sure I’m following their example. And hopefully you are too.
Of course, if you’re going to take time to be with successful people, so you can learn from their success, you’d better not waste their time. You’d better listen, and listen carefully to everything they tell you.
You can’t be like the average person that only listens to 25% of what is being said … and remembers even less. You can’t afford to lose all those great ideas that cross your path. So I suggest you get a copy of my 6-pack CD album called “The Relationship Factor: How To Make Bad Relationships Better and Good Relationships Great.” One of the CDs in the album will teach you to go from an average 25% listener to one who gets 95% of what is being said.
Joan Garber tried it, and she said, “WOW! 2 months have gone by. Geeee! Your Listening CD is great! I have made a concentrated effort to use the points when I am interacting with others. It is very powerful. Thank you so much for that gift!”
As Marilyn Savant puts it, “To acquire knowledge one must study. To acquire wisdom one must observe.” And that includes observing other people.
=> 4. Are you letting the law of probability work for you?
You see, the more ideas you expose yourself to, the greater your chances for having the right idea at the time you need it. And if you expose yourself to hundreds of ideas every year, you’re much more likely to be successful than the person who watches TV before and after work and listens to the radio to and from work. You’re putting the odds in your favor.
So you’ve got to realize … in one way or another … your success is determined by your learning. If you want to earn more, you’ve got to learn more. If you want to change the results you’re getting on the job or at home, you’ve got to:
* change the way you think,
* change the thoughts you think,
* change what you do,
* change the way you do what you do,
* change the people you associate with,
* change how you associate with people,
* change the words that you use, and
* change the number of balls that you are juggling.
And to change each and every one of those things, you’ve got to learn more. Otherwise, you will be getting the same results a year from now that you are getting now.
Action: Are you learning enough TODAY to ensure you’ll be better off TOMORROW? If not, get in gear and get a plan for your own continuing education.