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We all know that the world is changing at a phenomenal pace. In an incredibly short amount of time we have mastered flight, developed instant global communication and ventured into the stars.
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Everyday technology is evolving and improving, and with-it business and the professionals driving them are looking for an edge. They are looking for new and better solutions to help them differentiate what they do, who they are and ultimately stand out from the crowd.
Successful professionals have traits in common with each other, the main theme being they all love to learn and embrace Continuous Learning (CL). They do this because the opposite approach, which is to stand still and rest on your laurels will mean you will be left playing catch up, which is no good for you or for the business.
So what is Continuous Learning in business? CL can be either self or group motivated. It is the constant desire to increase personal or collective understanding of a chosen field, with the goal of increasing the skill set. As technology, industry and markets shift, CL will help you adapt and predict direction. The organic outcome should be stronger and more consistent ROI and productivity for both you and your business.
At all levels in business people are realising they need new skills and in this blog we are going to share our knowledge on:
- What the benefits of Continuous Learning are
- Our tips on Continuously Learning
What are the benefits?
Don’t get left behind:
As industry moves and evolves, through CL you will be able to stay abreast of what is new and how you can keep current and relevant in your sector.
Predict the future:
As important as not being left behind, by understanding the direction of change you may potentially be able to predict the future and arrive at a point before the market does giving you an edge on your competition.
Understanding your sector, predicting where it will go and using this industry knowledge to get a jump on your competition, over time will position you as an authority and best in your field.
The organic effect of being thought of as ‘best in field’ will be gifted an understanding of confidence from not only your peers, subordinates and superiors but more importantly from yourself. This impacts on the ‘ego’ part of your personality driving you to chase further success.
When professionals showcase the above aspects business owners start to look to these executives as leaders. These hardworking personality types willing to go the Xtra Mile by investing in themselves showcase talents that stand out from the rest. These skills are valuable to organisations and by advancing super star executives to managerial and directorial positions responsible for teams will mean they will share their outstanding qualities within their group. The real benefit here is more responsibility normally leads to more money.
Note: once you are preparing for the step into more responsibility you will need to inspire staff, have great communication skills, nurture a culture of innovation and a desire for your love of learning. If you are a super star how would you look if you nurtured a team of super stars? Awesome!
Dictate industry direction:
Industry leaders shape the world! No? Just think Dale Carnegie, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs or modern powerhouses today like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.
Now all of these people at some point have something in common (probably many things), they were hungry to learn and innovate. They were able to understand the market, get in front of it and then shape it.
Now I’m not saying you will control the next Unicorn business (why not?) but when you become a person of authority, who is consistently successful in your field, people will want you to direct them on to the next stage of that evolution. When you get to this point you’ll probably want to do it also.
Our top tips on how to continuously learn?
As a professional you can now see the advantages of CL now let’s explore the tools you need to execute it.
To be successful at CL you must have the right attitude and open yourself up to a lifetime of learning, it will be the most important skill you’ll use to succeed. You cannot go at this activity ‘half hearted’ though as innovation won’t stop, so you’ll need to commit to every aspect of it. Follow Thomas Edison’s advice and “if there is a better way to do it, find it!”
As well as preparing yourself to soak in as much information as possible one of the strange things about being at the front of the pack is you’ll be first to arrive at the precipice and see the view, so you should expect and prepare for the unexpected.
You’ll probably already know the answer to this question because you’ve made it this far in life but you’ll need to understand which learning style suits you the best, the 4 main styles are Visual, Aural, Verbal and Physical, then you need to use it.
A core learning skill is to read. Reading relevant blogs, (e)books, whitepapers and subscribing to relevant magazines can help you stay at the front of the game. Digital media is not constrained by physical need to print copy, so this may be your first port of call although be careful and make sure that the publishers are legitimate and not posting click bait from unconfirmed sources.
Social media platforms give us direct access to countless amounts of free learning content and the search fields in these platforms allow us to follow and consume most of our favourite knowledge brands and their free content.
Create a knowledge bank network
Try to surround yourself with knowledge. By this I mean identify current experts in your industry sector and introduce yourself. Constantly keep on growing your knowledge bank network until you sit on top of the pile yourself. In 2003 Michael Dell (Dell Computers) gave the University of Texas commencement speech where he encouraged students to “Try never to be the smartest person in the room”. The point here is if you are the least informed person in the room and providing you have the capacity you will be able to learn and grow from every person in that room. Pay for that contact if you need to. Mentorship and coaching isn’t always free but providing they are the right people with the correct information to share then it will be the best money you ever spend.
Join or create a think tank
The saying many heads are better than one is also another great tool in CL. Maybe you do not have access to the brightest minds or the resources to pay for it, by gathering similar passionate and informed people around you to discuss and explore industry growth then you will probably uncover nuggets of gold. Everybody has their own personal experiences that have shaped the way they think, and this can come in handy with looking for a solution from different perspectives. Other people will also know little bits of information you don’t that can help you but remember this is a collective effort with everyone contributing, so you will need to bring something to the party or else you’ll probably be shown the door.
Learn to be observant
You may be keen to prove yourself in business and feel the way to get ahead will be to add comment every chance you get but you should always consider the questions ‘is this a time to add, or is this a time to take’? They say we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. So learn to listen and pay attention.
Take educational courses
Like mentoring and coaching try finding educational training courses and workshops both online and/or in the real world in your chosen field.
Finally planning out your CL will help you stay on track, you can start simple by breaking your day down into hourly segments for which you place an hour aside for personal development. Be strict with yourself and stay the course. Set goals for each of those hours but be realistic with what you can do in the time you have when goal setting.