Successful People Never Stop Learning

Competence is one of the keys to career and life success in my Common Sense Success System.  I discuss it in detail in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success; Your Success GPS; I Want YOU…To Succeed; Star Power and 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success.

If you want to succeed you need to develop four basic, but important competencies: 1) creating positive personal impact; 2) becoming a consistently high performer; 3) communication skills; and 4) relationship building.

Lifelong learning is the first step in becoming an outstanding performer.  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’m procrastinating or 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.

Here are a few of the learnings in the book that have helped me…

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%.

These are little life learnings that I find helpful.

On the other hand, I had a big learning the other day.  I figured out how to podcast.  I have been wanting to turn these blog posts into podcasts for a long time.  However, I never put in the time it takes to become a proficient podcaster.  I promised myself that I would learn to podcast in early 2010.  On Tuesday, I spent about four hours figuring out how to podcast.  It wasn’t all that hard, the information I needed was on the web.  Now I know how to podcast – and since knowing is not enough, I’ve been doing a daily podcast.  You can check it out at  I hope you do and that you give me some feedback on it.

Podcasting is an important technical skill for me.  I had to learn it if I were to reach my target audience with my common sense career and life success advice.  What important technical skill do you need to learn to stay current in your area of expertise?  How can you learn it?  I suggest you set a deadline for learning this skill, and then do whatever it takes to learn the skill by the deadline.

All of the people I know who are committed to 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 common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are outstanding performers.  Outstanding performers remain outstanding performers by becoming lifelong learners.  They continually expand their knowledge in order to get out in front of the pack and stay there.  Begin your lifelong learning journey by focusing on your strengths and working to improve them every day.  Building on your strengths is easier that 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 in 2010?  How do you plan on learning it?  Remember what Ben Franklin had to say, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

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


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  1. Lora Ratnawati says:

    Hi Mr. Bilanich, I found your post really inspired me to keep on learning.. and I agree with you.. My curiousity bring me to the passion of knowledge.. I learn something new each time I feel curious.. Thank you for time reading my comments..

  2. Lora:
    Thank you for taking the time to comment.
    Stay curious, keep learning.

  3. Rose Herman says:

    Having reached the ripe old age of 60 , in our culture we are almost taught to believe by this age we should pretty well have sussed out life , and all it’s lessons , well let me tell you now , I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up , I still feel like there is so much I don’t know . One can look at that in a depressing way or one can embrace it and think well , what I have learned has put me in good stead at the time , but now I have to learn again to keep myself and my brain fresh and in the loop and the race , so I’ve decided that’s part of being on this planet , and there is no blue print . We print our own .

  4. Hello

    thanks for your text .we know curiousity is very important to be successful but we should
    have hope and passion in advance.I believe without those there is no curiousity.

    thanks and best regards Mr.Bilanich

  5. Really because if they stop learning, they are not successful.

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