Lifelong Learning and 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) Stay on top of your game by becoming a lifelong learner.  2) Set and achieve high goals.  3) Get organized.  Manage your time, life and stress well.

The other day I saw a great quote from Gandhi on line…

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

Both sentences are some great common sense advice for personal and professional success.  “Live as if you are to die tomorrow” is especially relevant to becoming interpersonally competent, another of the keys to success that I discuss in Straight Talk.

“Learn as if you were to live forever” is great advice for anyone interested in becoming an outstanding performer.  The half life of knowledge is getting shorter and shorter.  If you don’t keep learning, you won’t even keep up, you’ll fall behind in the knowledge that you need to become an outstanding performer.

Thomas Carlyle once said, “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.”  He 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.

I have a huge collection of books on leadership and personal and professional success.  I also subscribe to several blogs and have bookmarked many websites that cover these subjects.  These books, blogs and websites are the first place I look when I am gathering information to post on my blog, when I am working with my executive coaching clients, when I am preparing a talk or when I am designing a training program.

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 no or low cost free degree. 
I began this post with a quote from Gandhi.  I’ll end with one from Albert Einstein…

“Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the lifelong attempt to acquire it.”

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are outstanding performers.  Outstanding performers stay on top of their game by becoming technically competent.  They remain technically competent by becoming lifelong learners.  In my opinion, books and the internet are the best way to keep learning; but there are many other ways to do so.  Decide which ones work for you, and then follow through.  The key is to keep learning.  As Gandhi says, “Learn as if your were going to live forever.”

That’s my take on success and lifelong learning.  What’s yours?  Please leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, I appreciate you taking the time to read this blog.


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