When you’re young and successful, it’s easy to feel like you’ve got everything figured out. However, as any seasoned business leader knows, circumstances have a way of catching up to you. The only way to stay ahead is to make a commitment to consistent, ongoing learning.
Four Reasons to Keep Learning
The formal education system is broken. We spend far too long teaching young people irrelevant information and, in the case of higher education, charging them way too much for the right to learn. So by the time people reach the age of 18 or 22, they no longer have any interest in learning. They’d much prefer to roll up their expensive diplomas and plow full speed ahead into the real world – assuming that they’ve been prepared for everything coming their way.
But the business world isn’t a static place. To be successful, you must continue learning. Here are some specific reasons why:
1. Stay current
Think about how fast the business world iterates. Over the last decade alone, we’ve seen how massive trends and technologies like social media, cloud computing, virtual currencies, electronic signatures, SaaS, augmented reality, and artificial intelligence – just to name a few – have transformed the way we handle every aspect of business. Can you imagine what would happen if you just took a year off from learning? Constant learning keeps you current.
2. Prepare for change
It’s easy for the idea of change to make you fearful. But when you’re a lifelong learner, you understand that change is just something that happens. And rather than fear what’s coming down the pipeline, you can set yourself up to embrace it.
3. Cultivate thought leadership
We’re living in an age where you have to be able to differentiate yourself from the pack and prove value. One of the best ways to do this is by cultivating thought leadership in a very specific niche. A commitment to learning allows you to do this more efficiently.
4. Diversify your skill set
As valuable as it can be to niche down and become an expert on a specific topic, there’s also something to be said for continually diversifying your skillset and layering your talents. A steady commitment to relevant learning will help you accomplish this with ease.
How to Prioritize Ongoing Education
Continual learning sounds great, but how do you make it happen? How, as a busy professional with limited availability in your schedule, can you prioritize ongoing education?
Here are a few simple, effective suggestions:
Read two books per month
Most people don’t read nearly as much as they should. And when you ask them why, they tell you they don’t have the time. But this simply isn’t true. You’ll have to trust us on the math, but it’s possible for an average reader to read two substantial books (300 pages each) per month with just 35 to 40 minutes of focused reading time per day. Imagine what you can learn by reading 24 books per year!
Leverage classes and courses
There are classes, courses, and programs everywhere. You don’t need to enroll in a graduate program to benefit from them. An executive training program, for example, can help business leaders enhance their skills, network with other people, and grow as professionals. Whether it’s a program like this, or one in your niche, you have numerous opportunities all around you. Seize them!
Utilize online resources
The internet is a vast reservoir of knowledge. If you’re willing to sift through the useless and irrelevant information, you can find practical resources for learning and growing. Social media is great for this. Most industries have helpful Facebook or LinkedIn groups that are designed to cultivate community and foster the sharing of ideas.
Pursue one-on-one mentoring
As much as you can learn through books, classroom-like settings, and online networking groups, there’s something even more powerful about one-on-one mentoring where you connect with an experienced individual in your field and collect wisdom that can help you right where you are.
Adding it All Up
Your education shouldn’t stop when you walk across the stage with a diploma in hand. Learning is a lifelong pursuit – and the key to your long-term success in the business world.
Continue to absorb relevant knowledge and search for higher ground.
Craig Lebrau is the CMO of Media Insider, a Wyoming-based PR company that aims to disrupt the way companies communicate their brand in the digital era.
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