Learning for Success

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.  3) Get organized; manage your time, life and stress well.

Kevin Eikenberry is a friend of mine.  Through his great book, Remarkable Leadership, Unleashing Your Leadership Potential One Skill at a Time, and his coaching, Kevin has helped hundreds of people become better leaders.  I’m a subscriber to his ezine which I read religiously. 

Last week Kevin wrote an article in which he discussed the importance of lifelong learning.  Check it out…

“When it comes to anything competitive – whether it is baseball or the boardroom – anyone with the burning desire to win is always looking for anything that'll provide any sort of an edge
or advantage. You know, it's that thing that at the margin will allow them to succeed at greater levels than those around them.

“As a leader you might not be competitive in the same way as "A-Rod", or even be thinking about how to win while everyone else loses, but I'm guessing you:
• Want to be more successful with your people
• Want less frustration and stress
• Want to help your organization succeed

“And, I hope you want to succeed personally complete with promotions and pay raises!  The single most valuable, important and immediate performance enhancing tactic for leaders is to always be learning new things!

“I believe this with all my heart – you may know that from reading my writing in the past. I even devoted a whole chapter in Remarkable Leadership to it. The title of that chapter?  “Remarkable Leaders are Continual Learners.”

Kevin is right on here.  Successful people are continual learners.  In today’s fast paced world, the half life of knowledge is rapidly diminishing.  These days if you’re not learning, not standing still, you’re falling behind – and quickly.  That’s why I always encourage my coaching clients to keep on learning.  It’s the only way to guarantee your personal and professional success.

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 Masters degree. 

Your education doesn’t stop when you graduate from college or get an MBA, 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 once said, “Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong learning
attempt to acquire it.” 

The common sense point here is clear.  Successful people are outstanding performers.  Among other things, outstanding performers are lifelong learners.  Your education doesn’t stop when you finish your formal schooling.  If you want to perform at a high level over the course of your career, you need to keep on learning.  There are a variety of ways to learn over your lifetime.  You need to choose the one that is best for you and commit to it.

That’s my take on lifelong learning and success.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your learning experiences with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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