This is the final post in my 16 lessons learned over (my first) 16 years in business. For a summary with links to the other 15, scroll down to post 15, Use Wisely Your Power of . . ..
I announced this lesson during our online party last Friday, as promised.
But now it is time to share it with you.
The title of the post, could have been written for better search engine optimization, but that would have given you the answer.
The biggest lesson I've learned in 16 years in business is that in order to be more successful, you must continue to learn.
If you are thinking to yourself, "Duh Kevin, that isn't so profound," read on - because that attitude certainly isn't conducive to the learning mindset. (And a open, curious learning mindset is extremely valuable!)
As human beings, we are learning beings. We are truly at our best when we are using our gifts, including our gift of learning, to it's fullest extent. I've learned this, and while I believe it with all my heart, but I can tell you that until I'm blue in the face and it won't motivate you to act as a learner more of the time.
I could also tell you that the key word is being a continual
learner is the key. I used to think we needed to be continuous learners, but I believe there is a key difference. Continually means being on a path. Continuous means never stopping. It would be pretty hard to always be learning (at a conscious level). The only thing I can think of that we truly do continuously is breathe. Beyond that, we need a break.
I'd like to continually eat, but not continuously eat. I'd like to continually laugh, but not continuously laugh. I think you get the idea. we can't consciously continuously learn, but to become our best selves we must continually learn.
I've learned that be be a great learner, we must be continually learning, which includes rest and reflection.
And I've learned, that as valuable as this discussion of continuous vs. continual might be, this won't likely move you to learn more intentionally either.
But this might.
Think for a minute about what you want more of in your life. Think about your goals, dreams and aspirations. Whatever they are, and whether they are personal or professional in nature, you can not achieve them without learning.
If you already knew everything, everyone and all of the particulars, you would have already achieved those things. Learning is by definition a part of the journey towards anything we want and desire.
Would you like to get to your goals faster? Would you like the accelerant, the secret sauce to faster achievement?
Learn more and learn faster and you will accelerate your progress towards achievement.
Create the habits, discipline and mindset to become a continual learner and you will have found the secret sauce.
Perhaps it is ironic that a guy who says he is in the learning business sees this as his biggest lesson. Ironic, perhaps, but no less true.
Labels: accelerated learning, learning, learning habits
This is the first in a series of 16 posts this month, written as a celebration my 16th business anniversary
. Each post will share a lesson I have learned and hopefully successfully translate it into a lesson you can apply to your professional and personal success.My Story
When I started my business I thought about many things I'd need to be good at. I wanted to be the best trainer I could be, I wanted to be excellent at instructional design, I wanted to be a successful marketer and builder of Client relationships. I worked to build all of those skills (and still do today).
Looking back over 16 years in business, the skill that has arguably been the most important to my growth and success isn't on this list, and wasn't on my radar at that time time - the skill of writing.
16 years ago I knew I could write if I had to, but it wasn't something I thought too much about. A couple of years later I wanted to communicate with Clients about what I was learning in my work with other Clients. That marketing idea became a faxed newsletter called Vantagepoints
. After a few issues, it morphed into a story about learning from any life situation and moved from fax delivery to email and changed from just going to Clients to going to whomever wanted to read it. Eventually over 6000 people read it and the best stories became my first book - Vantagepoints on Learning and Life
Over five years ago I began writing this blog (now with over 830 posts). I write another blog specifically on leadership
, have written over 250 articles (and a new one each week),and produce three weekly email newsletters.
Along the way, I have also written another book of my own (Remarkable Leadership
), am finishing two more this year, and planning at least one for next year, and have been a contributing author to over 20 other books.
I also write monthly as a part of our Remarkable Leadership Learning System
and as a part of Client projects.
Clearly there is a marketing and promotional value to all of this writing. But there is a much larger lesson here and it applies to all of us - whether we want or need to promote ourselves or our products or services. Let's talk about them now.Our Lessons
1. Writing helps us learn.
A key component of the learning process is reflecting on what has happened to us to determine what to repeat, and what to change next time. Writing about our experiences can really help us in this reflection in powerful ways. I can honestly say that all of the writing I do, would really be worth it, just for what I learn from the process.
2. Writing clarifies our thinking. Ideas can swirl in our mind and we can think about something, but when we put the pen to paper or our fingers on a keyboard and put our thinking into words, we become much clearer and our thoughts become more real and more actionable.
3. Writing makes us smarter. As a published author I often find that people now assume I'm smart because I wrote a book! While I don't know that my name on the cover of a book proves that, if you take the first two lessons - writing helps us learn and clarifies our thinking; the fact that writing makes us smarter is obvious. As we write we discover new things and new ideas. The process of writing allows for learning and the words we write provide more learning too.
4. Writing is about the process, not about the reader. As a author, this isn't completely true - as I write this I am thinking about you as my reader, and trying to write as clearly and persuasively as I can. AND, I know that one reason many people don't write is that they don't want others to read it, or don't think anyone else would want to read it. So to sell you on the decision to write, please know that all of the benefits listed so far are about you and not about the reader. If you write in a journal or a on a secret hidden document on your computer, you will get the benefits regardless of your grammar, style or spelling. If your goal is to have others read what you write, great! But don't think writing has to be about others - the personal benefits are huge!
5. We all have something to write about. We all have 24 hours of day experiences each day. We all have a lifetime of memories, thoughts and ideas. Sorting, compiling, referencing and using them is plenty of fodder for the type of writing that most of us can and need to do.
6. Writing is a habit. Most people I talk to about starting a blog say - I don't know what to write (see #5) or, I don't have time to write. If you believe in the benefits, you will find time to write. Admittedly, I have commitments to writing that keep me on track, and I don't always want to write. But I know, for all of the reasons I've listed (and a whole lot more), writing is important. And like anything important in our lives, we can make it a habit.
And lastly, this article isn't just about writing. The last lesson is to figure out the skills that really matter most. Often the skills we think are most important or valuable, really aren't. I see it in all of my work. People want to get better at their work and make assumptions as to the best ways to do that. Look beyond the technical aspects of your work (in my case, being a better trainer, for you perhaps being more expert, learning your products better, getting an advanced degree) - look deeper. Ask yourself what are the underlying skills that help me really achieve my goals? Another way to figure this out is to ask smart people who have been where you want to do - find a mentor and ask them.
If your goal is to write your memoir, Great American Novel, or to become a professional writer, hopefully this post was helpful and inspiring. But I really wrote this post for the rest of us (myself included).
One of the things I've learned in 16 years of business is that writing makes me a better business person and a better human being.
Labels: habit, learning, learning habits, writing
In my last post
, I shared a powerful daily habit with you. There are lots of other daily learning habits that we can invest in. Here are two others . . .Word of the Day
For many years I have asked people "what's the word of the day?" It has typically been a way to greet people and get people thinking. This could however be a powerful way to build your vocabulary. Think about how your vocabulary would expand if you learned just one new word a day. While there a likely many tools for doing this online, I've subscribed to A Word A Day
for many years. I highly recommend it.A Picture a Day
My intern for this coming summer, Abby Hoye was apprised of my "what's the word of the day?" question during a discussion with another person on the team. Since then she has shared a couple words of the day with me. Then, last week I received an email from her with the subject line: Kevin Eikenberry-isms. Here is part of the note:"You have your word of the day correct? Well I have come up with a very similar, but slightly different "of the day" thing. It's a picture of the day. I take one picture every day with my cell phone to sum up my day and send it off to people."
This seems fun, creative and another possible daily learning habit. What if the picture related to a life lesson, important value, or something along those lines. The picture of the day could be connected with the word of the day (a picture that relates to your word of the day) or to the daily learning question as well. These pictures could form the basis of a great personal journal or blog.
I know there are many other daily learning habits. Consider these just a start. What are your daily learning habits?
Also posted in Learning
Labels: learning habits