I had a big technical learning the other day. I figured out how to podcast. I am planning on turning these Success Tweets blog posts into podcasts. However, I never put in the time it takes to become a proficient podcaster. I promised myself that I would learn to podcast when I began this series of posts. I spent about four hours figuring out how to podcast a couple of days ago. It wasn’t all that hard, the information I needed was on the web. Now I know how to podcast.
Podcasting is an important technical skill for me. I had to learn it if I were to reach my target audience with my common sense career and life success advice. What important technical skill do you need to learn to stay current in your area of expertise? How can you learn it? I suggest you set a deadline for learning this skill, and then do whatever it takes to learn the skill by the deadline.
I am a big fan of SUCCESS Magazine. I read it cover-to-cover every month, always picking up some great success tips – many of which I pass along here. If you’re not a subscriber, I suggest you go to www.SUCCESS.com and do so as soon as you finish this post.
A couple of years ago, an issue of SUCCESS had a great story on lifelong learning entitled, “Focusing on Improvement When You’ve Reached the Pinnacle.” It told the story of an American Football coach at the top of his game who reached out to others to keep growing and developing his coaching skills.
The article was about Tom Coughlin, Head Coach of the then Super Bowl Champion New York Giants. Before the next football season began, Mr. Coughlin called Joe Torre and John Wooden. Mr. Torre managed the New York Yankees to three consecutive World Series Championships, and Mr. Wooden won seven consecutive NCAA basketball championships when he was the coach at UCLA. He was a great man who passed away recently.
Mr. Coughlin wanted to learn what to do to motivate a team that had already reached the pinnacle of its sport. Mr. Torre had some interesting things to say:
“Leading when everyone expects you to win requires that you convince every member of your team that last year doesn’t matter. And that’s tough to do because all year long they’re seeing the words ‘defending champions’ placed before their names. The only thing that winning last year means is that your opponents are looking forward to playing you. None of them are intimidated by what you did a year ago, and none of them are going to roll over. Your team will have to learn that quickly.”
In other words, you can’t rest on your laurels. You need to keep on learning and improving. Your past success does not guarantee future success. Things happen quickly in today’s business world. If you’re not learning, growing and developing your technical expertise, like Tom Coughlin, you’re going to fall behind.
Roy Williams, Head Basketball Coach at the University of North Carolina, and winner of a couple of NCAA championships says:
“It is human nature that once you get to the top, or when it appears that you are better than your opponent, to take a breath and enjoy the moment. What we are trying to teach (the willingness to keep learning and growing) runs counter to human nature… I remind each player that the way you deal with expectations is to focus only on today.”
The implication for lifelong learning is simple. No matter how much you know, you can always learn more. Earl Nightingale once said, “If you will spend an extra hour each day of study in your chosen field, you will be a national expert in that field in five years or less.” This is great career advice. Focus on today. Spend an hour learning every day. You’ll be surprised at the results.
Recently, I saw a great quote from Henry Ford that applies here. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” Another good reason to keep on learning. Don’t become old before your time.
The common sense career success coach point here is simple. Successful people master their technical discipline. They follow the career advice in Tweet 83 in Success Tweets. “Master your technical discipline. Share what you know. Become the go-to person in your company.” Become the go-to person in your company and industry, like Tom Coughlin and Roy Williams. Keep learning – even after you’ve had great success. Follow Earl Nightingale’s advice. Spend at least one hour a day studying your chosen field. This extra effort will pay off in the long run. Besides that, as Henry Ford points out, you’ll stay young.