Watching, Listening and Learning for Success

Competence is one of the keys to career and life success that I discuss in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success; Your Success GPS; 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) becoming interpersonally competent.

You have to become a lifelong learner if you want to perform at a consistently high level.  I came across some interesting advice on lifelong learning in a somewhat unlikely place the other day.  There is a company called Tomboy Tools.  They make tools that are made to fit women’s hands.  They realize that some women are pretty good handy “men.”  Cathy, my wife, is one of them.  A couple of years ago, Tomboy Tools ran a promotion to help support the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.  They put pink handles on their hammers and gave a percentage of the profits to the Komen foundation.  I bought one for Cathy, and ended up on their ezine list.

The latest Tomboy Tools ezine, The Tomboy Tribune: Women, Tools, Knowledge had a message from the CEO, Janet Rickstrew.  She offered this advice on lifelong learning:

“Life is worthwhile if you learn. What you don’t know will hurt you. You have to have learning to exist, let alone succeed. Life is worthwhile if you learn from your own experiences, negative and positive. We learn to do it right by first sometimes doing it wrong. We call that a positive negative. We learn from other people’s experiences and mistakes both positive and negative.  We learn by what we see – pay attention. We learn by what we hear – be a good listener.”

This is great common sense advice.  Successful people learn continually.  I consider it an unproductive day if I haven’t learned something new.  And, Janet Rickstrew is right.  You can learn a lot just by paying attention. 

In 42 Rules to Jumpstart Your Professional Success, I discuss the importance of having a mentor.  Mentors help you learn and grow by sharing their wisdom and advice with you.  Here is some of the advice that I offer…

Do you want to find a mentor?  Just look around you.  Who are the people you admire and want to emulate?  Watch what they do, and do the same.  I’ve had several mentors who never even realized they were mentoring me. 

I learned how to build a network of solid contacts by watching Maggie Watson.  I learned the rules of business etiquette and dressing for success by watching Bill Rankin.  I learned how to become a first rate public speaker by watching Steve Roesler.  I learned how to become a trusted advisor by watching Don Nelson.  I learned how to carry myself with dignity in even the most difficult situations by watching JF and Carol Kiernan.  I learned how to become a better conversationalist by watching Cathy, my wife. 

The reverse is also true.  I’ve learned plenty about what not to do to build self esteem, give performance feedback and treat people with respect and dignity from observing a few of my  managers over the years.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are competent.  They remain competent by becoming lifelong learners.  You can learn a lot simply by observing others.  Pay attention to the people you admire.  Watch what they do – you can learn a lot that way.  But knowledge isn’t particularly helpful if you don’t use it.  So watch successful people and learn from them.  More important, put what you learn to use in your life and career.

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


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