Keep On Learning So You Keep on Earning … BIG TIME

Have you ever noticed that the highest achievers are absolutely committed to ongoing personal and professional development? They know that their computers need to be upgraded on a regular basis and so do they. And they know they can’t rely on yesterday’s knowledge to achieve tomorrow’s victories.

That just makes sense. Common sense.

But it is far from common practice. Did you know that the vast majority of people … after they finish their formal education … will not read ten books the rest of their lives? That is, ten non-fiction books that will actually advance their lives, careers, and relationships.

That’s nuts.

The same goes for workshops and seminars. Oh sure, people may attend a few training programs mandated by their employers. But the vast majority of people do not attend or invest in any programs that have proven to advance people’s lives, careers, and relationships.

That’s sad.

With the start of the New Year, I implore you to make continuing education a centerpiece in your life with these five strategies.

► 1. Stop the Excuses

If you’re going to be a champion leader, manager, supervisor, team leader, individual contributor, spouse, or parent, you’ve got to stop finding excuses for not upgrading yourself, not learning more, or not getting better. You’ve got to stop sounding like the pathetic souls who say, “That’s just the way I am . . .” or “I don’t have time . . .”

Eileen Zierman is one of those champions who taps into the power of continuing education. She said,

“I thought if I could spend lots of dollars on fishing trips, I could sprout my wings and invest in your Journey-to-the-Extraordinary experience. I could learn more about myself, my relationships, and my work. Well, I went, and I’m using all 12 secrets that you taught us, and it’s working. What a blessing from God. It was money well spent. I’m excited about the learning, and it feels WONDERFUL.”

If you want more out of life, stop sounding like the crybabies who say, “Take evening classes and spend my own money? Hey, I already work hard all day. Besides, it’s my employer’s job to train me, or it’s the government’s job to look after my future.” Champions never make those excuses.

► 2. Aggressively Pursue Ongoing Personal and Professional Development.

No one who becomes rich in any particular business or field starts with all the skills he or she needs.

If, for example, your purpose is to turn your kids into financially independent, self-sufficient adults, you may need to take some courses on a variety of financial topics yourself. How else could you possibly expect to model the right behavior or teach your kids the proper financial skills if you don’t have them yourself?

If you have the goal of winning over your competitor’s customers without using price as a weapon, you may need to get some training on customer attraction and retention.

So what can you do to aggressively pursue ongoing personal and professional development?

Attend every GREAT seminar you can. There are a lot of good or pretty good programs out there. You don’t have the time or money to waste on them. So ask around and see which programs are the very best. Ask successful people—that you trust—which seminars they would recommend.

J.T. Meanor from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base knows the power of that. He sent me a note saying,

“Your Journey-to-the-Extraordinary was the most rewarding learning experience I’ve obtained in over 20 years working as a US Air Force professional engineer and leader. Truly the best of the best!”

► 3. Use Proven Learning and Retention Devices

One of those devices is note taking. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you will remember what was said. You won’t. But you will get 20 percent more from a meeting if you take notes. And you’ll get 35 percent more if you put your notes into a report—saying what you learned and how you’ll use what you learned.

And the best learning and retention device is called spaced repetition. In other words, if you hear the same message again, at a later date, chances are you’ll remember what you learned and use what you learned.

That’s why I send out a reinforcement email every week for 15 weeks for my Journey graduates. I don’t want to leave them hanging and wondering how they’re going to apply all the great stuff they learned at the program.

► 4. Learn from Champions

Another great source of continuing education is other people. You can learn a great deal from observing Champions and following their lead.

Better yet, surround yourself with Champions and learn from them, individually or in a group setting. I’ve been doing that for more than twenty years, meeting with six world-class speakers/authors/consultants/coaches, someplace in the world, four times each year, for two days at a stretch. What I’ve learned from those gatherings has been so huge that I would place this experience in the top five learning experiences of my entire life.

► 5. Learn from Losers

You can also learn from losers. Just find out what they do . . . and then don’t do that!

As business philosopher Jim Rohn says, “It’s too bad losers or failures don’t give seminars. Wouldn’t that be valuable? We could sit back and say, ‘Pete . . . Henry . . . Mary . . . Jessica, you’ve screwed up your life for forty years. If I bring a notepad, and promise to take good notes, would you spend a day with me? Would you teach me all the things not to do?’”

That’s why I’m extremely open and disclosing in all my programs. I’ve had incredible successes, personally and professionally, and I’ve been enormously blessed. But I’ve also experienced some devastating failures … and learned a ton from every one of those failures. I pull back the curtain and share those lessons in the Journey because I believe they can cut 5, 10, or even 30 years off your learning curve.

So yes, you can and should learn from the champions. But you can also learn from the losers. Get in the habit of continuing your education by learning something from every person you meet.

Final Question: Do I care enough about myself and my work to invest in my continuing education?