Build Your Career Success: Get Competent

Brian Tracy is a well-known life and career success expert.  I’m proud to say that I share the cover with him and Stephen Covey of a book called Speaking of Success: World class Experts Share Their Secrets.  The other day I received an email on competence from Brian.  In part, it said…

“You can increase your efficiency and your effectiveness by becoming better and better at your key tasks. One of the most powerful of all time management techniques is for you to get better at the most important things you do. Your core competencies, your key skill areas, the places where you are absolutely excellent at what you do, are the key determinants of your productivity, your standard of living, and the level of achievement you reach in your field.”

This reminded me of the career advice in Tweets 81 and 82 in my career success book Success Tweets.  “Become a lifelong learner.  The half-life of knowledge is rapidly diminishing.  Staying in the same place is the same as going backwards.” (81)  “Learn faster than the world changes.  In a world that never stops changing, you can never stop learning and growing.” (82)

If you want to create the life and career success you want and deserve, you need to become a lifelong learner.  Louis L’Amour, the great American writer of stories about the old west really captured the essence of lifelong learning when he said…

“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished.  That will be the beginning.”

I know a lot about life and career success.  I’ve written several books on it.  I give lots of talks about it.  I’ve coached hundreds of people – helping them build the life and career success they want and deserve.  I write this blog.  At one point, I thought I knew it all.

And you know what?  Every time I write about life and career success, every time I speak about it, every time I coach someone offering my career advice, I gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to create life and career success.

I begin anew every day, doing whatever I can to learn about life and career success so I can pass on this knowledge and wisdom to others.  I choose to keep learning.  That’s the main reason I subscribe to Brian Tracy’s blog.  So should you.  Pay attention here – this is solid career advice.  I’ve learned that if you don’t keep learning, you don’t stand still – you fall behind in the game of life.  I’ve also learned that what I learned after I knew it all was some of the best and most important of my career success learnings.

Lifelong learning is an important key to your career success.  In today’s fast-paced world, if you don’t keep learning, you’re not standing still, you’re falling behind.  One of my favorite quotes from Gandhi nails it when it comes to lifelong learning…

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.”

He’s right.  None of us should ever quit learning.  I have a thirst for knowledge and do my best to quench it through learning.  I try to learn something new every day.  Sometimes my learning is trivial, sometimes it is profound.  Regardless, I keep on learning.

On days when I feel as if I haven’t learned anything, I turn to a little book that I have called, Live and Learn and Pass It On.  The subtitle is, “People ages 5 to 95 share what they’ve discovered about life, love, and other good stuff.”  I usually find something in there that satisfies my thirst for learning

Here are a few of the learnings in the book that have helped me in my career success journey…

I’ve learned that if you wait until all conditions are perfect before you act, you’ll never act.

I’ve learned that if you want to get promoted, you must do things that get you noticed.

I’ve learned that 90% of what happens in my life is positive and only about 10% is negative.  If I want to be happy I just need to focus on the 90%.

All of the people I know who are committed to creating their life and career success through lifelong learning have several traits in common.  They all…

…Are humble.  They admit what they don’t know.  This is the first step in learning what they need to know.

…Question the status quo.  They realize that because something is right today, it may not be right tomorrow.  They know that doing things “the way we’ve always done them” is not good reasoning.

…Are intellectually curious.  They truly want to learn and find learning fun, interesting and stimulating.  They see life as a journey in which they are constantly learning.

…Are willing to try new stuff.  They experiment and see what works.  When things work, they use them.

…Are not afraid to fail.  They see failure as an opportunity to learn.  Just as they incorporate what works into their repertoire, they use failures as stepping stones to other experiments.

…Are tolerant of ambiguity.  Learning creates ambiguity.  These people are willing to let go of past ways of doing things in order to come up with new ways of doing things in the future.  The gap between the past and future can make for an uncomfortable present.

…Focus on staying ahead of the pack.  They are early adopters – of new technology and new ways of thinking.  They realize that knowledge has a short half-life today.  They keep learning to stay ahead.

The career success coach point here is simple common sense.  Successful people are competent They remain competent by becoming lifelong learners.  They continually expand their knowledge in order to get out in front of the pack and stay there.  If you want to improve your competence, follow the career advice in Tweets 81 and 82 in Success Tweets.  “Become a lifelong learner.  The half-life of knowledge is rapidly diminishing.  Staying in the same place is the same as going backwards.”(81)   “Learn faster than the world changes.  In a world that never stops changing, you can never stop learning and growing.” (82)  Begin your lifelong learning journey by focusing on your strengths and working to improve them every day.  Building on your strengths is easier than overcoming your weaknesses.  When you build on your strengths you can make incremental improvements.  However, if you have a glaring gap in your skills, address it now.  Don’t wait to take necessary quantum leaps.  What do you need to learn to create the life and career success you want and deserve?  How do you plan on learning it?  Remember what Ben Franklin had to say, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

That’s the career advice I took from Brian Tracy’s thoughts on competence.  What do you think?  Please share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, you can download a free copy of my latest career success book Success Tweets Explained.  It’s a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

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  1. One of the statements that stood out to me was …”begin anew every day, doing whatever I can to learn about life and career success so I can pass on this knowledge and wisdom to others. I choose to keep learning”…

    I started my day on a prayer walk, memorizing a new song by Kirk Franklin called “Smile.” They are powerful lyrics at providing hope on the inside of your heart when you want to give up. This article provided me with hope that I can keep learning. I can focus on my core competencies that I am an expert in my field.

    Well, I came home from my 3 mile to start my search for employment. The “Smile” left as I realized one of the verses came to mind as I read this article.

    …” I smile even though it hurts See I smile, I know God is working so I smile, Even though I been hear for a while, I smile Smile, It’s so hard to look up when your down, sure would hate to see you give up now You look so much better when you smile”…

    Reading this article was like riding a roller coaster. Great points made through out the article that I agreed with and then the reality of I am still unemployed and it is coming up om 2 years in a few weeks. I would like to focus on learning now and get off of the roller coaster emotionally.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Brian K. Hill

  2. Brian:
    I’ll be in my office next week.
    If you want we can find a time to chat on Tuesday or Wednesday.
    Plese send me an email suggesting some times.
    And, I love your positive energy and use of affirmations.
    Things are going to get better for you.
    All the best,

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