In today's fast-paced business world, no one's going to give us permission to engage in self-improvement, a strategy that is essential to our future success.
We can't wait for circumstances or someone else to improve us. We must take the initiative. To improve our business, we must improve ourselves. Gone are the days of the artisan, when one could learn a craft and put it into action for a lifetime. To grow in our careers today requires us to keep learning long after our formal schooling ends. The more we are able to know and do, the more doors open to us and the more value we can offer our employers, employees and our business.
Continuous learning means we're keeping our minds freshly stocked. This enables us to come up with more and better ideas and innovations, which every business needs to be successful. It also keeps us excited, motivated and highly engaged. We can't be satisfied with "good enough," because it never is.
We should value self-improvement over self-promotion. There is nothing noble in being better than someone else; progress is becoming better than your previous self.
George Knox, early 20th-century author and founder of the Personal Help School of Achievement, was right: "When you cease to be better, you cease to be good."
People who are constantly improving ask themselves some important daily questions:
* How much time should I devote daily to continuous learning?
* What opportunities can I seek out today that will help me grow?
* What have I learned today that I need to learn more about tomorrow?
* How can I apply what I have learned today?
* Am I better today than I was yesterday? Last month? Last year?
Experts suggest several areas to focus our learning:
* The study of your current profession and related disciplines.
* The study of the English vocabulary.
* Learning how to associate and communicate effectively with others.
* Learning about business strategy and innovation.
* Learning more about your hobbies and interests.
Adopt the attitude of a learner, not an expert. Whenever possible throughout one month, put yourself in learning roles. Instead of talking more, listen more.
Tackle a new discipline, even if it makes you feel inadequate. Ask questions when you don't understand something. Become highly teachable. Pride is an enemy of self-improvement.
Pick an area where you want to improve and make a plan that will help you grow. What books will you read? What conferences will you attend? What experts will you interview? What risks will you take? Make your daily decisions on how you will be enhanced personally rather than financially.
Continuous learning can be a key ingredient in your success. In addition, as knowledge becomes obsolete at a faster rate, keeping your knowledge base up to date is a matter of survival.
What's more, learning new skills and gaining knowledge can be fun and extremely rewarding.
Nobody really knows how good he or she can become. In a time of great change, it is the learner who will find success.
Brad Larsen is a life coach and corporate consultant from Northern Utah. His column appears every Thursday in the Standard-Examiner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.