Thomas Corley, author of “Rich Habits: The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals,” spent five years studying more than 200 self-made millionaires and found that 86 percent read instead of watching television and 63 percent listen to audiobooks every day during their morning commute. The lesson learned in these success stories? Instead of binge-watching, maybe we need to try a little “binge-learning.”
Most of us want to be continuous and persistent learners. We realize the value, but we already feel that we’re spread too thin between our personal and professional responsibilities. Although I felt that way throughout my career, I truly believe that there’s no such thing as “not enough time.” It really comes down to priorities. I have found that taking the time to learn is not only doable, it’s one of the most rewarding things we can do. It’s also necessary, not just for promotional purposes (although that’s often a benefit), but for our own personal growth and sense of accomplishment.
I recently made the decision to leave a career after 25+ years in the only field I’ve ever known. It’s one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. The single most important factor in making the transition a successful one was LEARNING. I was introduced to an expert in the field I was interested in pursuing by a person within my network to whom I’ll always be thankful. That expert became my mentor, providing guidance and support before I even made the decision to move on from my former job. As soon as I started learning this new line of business, I was hooked. I sought out information from every available source and things started to click. I knew it was time for a change and as scary as it was, made the leap of faith and have never looked back. I still have a lot to learn, but forcing myself to venture outside of my comfort zone was exactly what I needed. My hope in writing this is not only to share that scary change can be good, but that it pushes you to tap into capabilities you may not know you have.
A few things I learned about learning:
FOCUS – you’ll gain the most from your learning sessions if you’re focused and intentional. Choose an area you want to learn about rather than taking in bits of random information that don’t necessarily lead to “Wow, I’m actually becoming pretty knowledgeable about X and it’s going to help me do X.” You don’t necessarily have to be learning in preparation for a new job or promotion. You could just be interested in a topic that someone mentioned or you heard on the news.
VERIFY – it’s good to keep an open mind as you listen and learn, but also to do fact-checking where needed. Just like any information you receive, regardless of the source, cross check before relying on it 100%. Ideally, you apply what you learn as you learn it. That helps tremendously with retention.
EXPLORE – there are endless resources all around us! I looked for those that were informative, while also being quickly accessible. Here are just a few that I really found helpful: Podcasts (from “HR Happy Hour” to “Managed Care Cast”), Ted Talks on absolutely every subject out there, Blogs (“Harvard Business Review” to Dan Rockwell’s “Leadership Freak”), LinkedIn Daily Rundown with links to additional information on hot topics, Networking Events, Webinars, Audible Books, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s), Stretch Assignments or Special Projects at work and the list goes on and on. The point is that it’s all out there ready to be discovered!
NETWORK – connect with people who can help and ask a lot of questions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to those you want to learn from. Our peers and colleagues usually view it as an honor to be asked.
You don’t have to commit a huge amount of time. Just listening to a 30 minute podcast on your way to and from work will put you further ahead on the learning curve than you were a month ago. If Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Oprah Winfrey and Mark Cuban can find time to read and learn, we can probably squeeze a few minutes into our schedules too! Find out more about The 5-Hour Rule Used by Bill Gates Jack Ma and Elon Musk.
Lynn Barboza is an Executive Recruiter at Morgan Consulting Resources, a healthcare executive search firm celebrating over 20 successful years in business.