“Corey, there has never been such a thing as job security,” Frank exclaimed after overhearing a young woman complain to a coworker that she had been laid-off.
“I made a fortune in transistor radios,” he continued, “until some S.O.B. invented the television! Even as a kid in southern Wisconsin, I remember seeing the blacksmith sitting on his hands. Here he had the biggest house in town, but as the automobiles began to come off of the assembly line, his income began to dry up.”
Tears filled his eyes, “The most important thing you can ever do is focus on preparing yourself to be the best in your industry, and keep on the lookout for new industries because you never know when things will change, and you will be stuck sitting on your hands.”
Later that day, I wondered if Frank was right. What did he mean by “the best in your industry?” I thought to myself.
Consequently, I drove to the library and started my examination to read as many books and articles on career forecasting and skill development as I could find. It was 1997, and a quick Google search was not an option.
The more I read, the more I learned that the collective writings had three ideas in common:
- The career you start with will not resemble the one you end with because change is exponential and happens at a mind-boggling rate. “It makes sense to seek protection by reinventing ourselves before someone else decides we are dispensable.”
- The fundamental skill you can develop is the ability to learn new skills, as research suggests.
- Engaging in leadership and personal development training will drastically improve your future marketability.
Four steps to improve your leadership skills
This journey led me to develop a four-step plan to improve my leadership skills, and I would like to share it with you.
1. Commit to life-long learning
What if you could take action today to help your brain stay strong, remain healthy, and help you become one of the top 15% in your industry? What would it look like if you lived the rest of your life engaged and excited by the idea of continued learning and implementing new knowledge? According to Waldon University, a commitment to lifelong learning makes these outcomes not only possible but virtually guaranteed.
Meanwhile, keeping your brain healthy is one of the best ways to maintain a higher quality of life. According to leading brain expert Dr. Daniel Amen, adopting a learning-based lifestyle combined with a healthy lifestyle will significantly decrease the rate at which your brain ages. For starters, read a book for 30 minutes along with your morning coffee and before you go to bed. This simple habit will give you the space you need to focus on your growth.
2. Listen to audiobooks
If you don’t have time to read for an hour each day, you can dive into audiobooks. A great way to do this is to turn your car into a rolling university by listening to audiobooks while you drive, as the late author Zig Ziglar suggested many years ago.
According to the US Department of Transportation, the average working-age adult in the United States drives anywhere between 7,600 and 18,800 miles every year and translates into 500-1,000 hours annually.
While your competition overlooks this valuable opportunity, you could brush up on sales skills, time management, emotional intelligence, investing, you name it. Audio learning also works while you clean, shower, workout, or even go for a walk. There are many ways to embrace audio learning, so don’t be afraid to get creative.
The more you know about life, communication, business skills, and relationship development, the less you struggle. The less you grapple with these issues, the more things go your way. The more things go your way, the more fun you have. The more fun you have, the more people will want to follow your lead.
3. Attend seminars
A weekend event in a hotel banquet room can change your life. It’s one thing to read and listen to books or to sign up for online courses, but participating in round table discussions with real people who experience the same issues you face can be just as rewarding, if not more.
Attending the right seminars and workshops can expand your awareness, mind, and skills while you connect with like-minded peers and have a good time. These training sessions are often conducted by experts who have spent thousands of hours mastering and solving the very problems you struggle with today. How beneficial would it be if you saved 1,000 hours by learning from their experiences?
4. Implement new ideas
Knowledge alone isn’t enough. You have to use the knowledge you’ve gained, and this is where the real fun begins.
Decide today that you will try out the ideas and concepts you discover. Visualize yourself as an innovator who puts a new twist on an old routine, brings new solutions to stubborn problems, and promotes and develops others using top leadership and mentoring techniques.
What would your income look like then?
How much could you earn if you increased your sales closing rate by 10, 20, or even 30 percent because you learned new closing techniques from a CD series you listened to in your car?
After reading a book called First, Break All the Rules: What the World’s Greatest Managers Do Differently, I realized leaders could have fun and improve the lives of everyone around them if they gave people the space to be great.
The author taught me to:
- utilize people for what they are good at,
- stop trying to get people to do things they hate and suck at,
- see things from the customer’s perspective,
- understand my viewpoint is not always right, and
- experiment, tweak, and re-experiment.
After implementing what I learned from that one book, my sales improved by 20 percent. Our employee satisfaction rating went from 80 to 97 percent, too, because my employees were significantly happier and more fulfilled in their new roles.
Corey Jahnke is an author, speaker, and mindset strategist helping business owners take control of their journey to success. With over 20 years of experience in leadership, communication, and emotional intelligence, Corey takes his clients from spinning their wheels on the verge of burnout to smashing their goals. His work has been featured in The Good Men Project and more. To learn more about becoming a successful thinker, check out Corey’s website here.
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