Learn to Perform

Outstanding performance is one of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk for Success.  If you want to become an outstanding performer, you need to do three things: 1) Become a lifelong learner; 2) Set and achieve high goals; and 3) Get organized.

Before I get into the meat of today’s post, I want to congratulate Roger Federer, Serena Williams and the Bryan Brothers for their outstanding performances in the recently concluded US Tennis Open.  They all have won multiple Grand Slams, and they all performed as the champions they are.

I came across a quote from Thomas Carlyle the other day that goes directly to the heart of lifelong learning.  “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.”

I agree.   I often tell young people that 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 this blog, when I am working with my executive coaching clients, when I am preparing a speech and when I am designing a training program.

Are you a reader?  Which books have had the biggest impact on your life and career?  Please leave a comment, sharing your favorite books with us.

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 half life of knowledge is decreasing every day.  Successful people know that they need to keep learning throughout their lives and careers.  If you want to succeed, you need to become like a sponge, soaking up all the knowledge and information you can.  I have a Doctorate from Harvard, yet I learn at least one thing – usually two or three things new every day.  This knowledge helps me stay current and to provide the best value to my customers and clients.

The common sense point here is clear.  Successful people are outstanding performers.  Outstanding performers are lifelong learners.  Lifelong learners stay informed on what’s going on in their industry, with their competitors, in business and politics and in popular culture.  They read books and blogs, find information on the net, listen to podcasts or books on cd, read periodicals and newspapers.  Lifelong learners know what’s happening in their world, and they understand how to use this knowledge to create a great life and career.

That’s my take on lifelong learning and success.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment telling us about how you stay current in this fast paced world.  Thanks for reading – and writing.


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  1. Tiffany’s Top 10 List of Books and People Who Write “Stuff”
    1. 1984 — George Orwell
    2. A Brave New World (Revisited) — Aldous Huxley
    3. Virtue of Selfishness — Ayn Rand
    4. Dumbing Us Down — John Taylor Gatto
    5. OSHO — Seriously, ANYthing by Osho
    6. Ready, Fire, Aim — Michael Masterson
    7. A Return to Love — Marianne Williamson
    8. Celestine Prophecy Series — James Redfield… I love these books!
    9. Eminem a.k.a. Marshall Mathers… I know, he’s not an author, but his lyrics on paper RIVAL the great poets.
    10. Oh, The Places You’ll Go — Dr. Seuss
    Honorable Mention: Common Sense Guy. 🙂 Thanks for the Monday inspiration. I’m glad I subscribed to your blog.
    And you’re right… I didn’t read these books until I was OUT of school (which is why I believe in self-directed learning).

  2. Tiffany:
    Thanks for your top 10 list — I’ve read most of them. Thanks for giving me an honorable mention.
    I really appreciate your comment. I hope it encourages other people to send in their list of top books.
    All the best,

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