Professional Success: Avoid Becoming A Dinosaur

Jack Nichlaus was asked if there are really talented golfers who never make it. "Oh, hundreds of them", he replied. "A lot of people out there are more talented than I am and yet, through the years, I've passed them by...That's because they did not have the drive to keep on learning...In other words, they didn't try to get better."

Being good at what you do, like so many of the factors that make for high achievement in golf and other endeavors, has to be worked at and developed and polished on a continual basis. Forget about finally finishing your education. Being successful means getting better today and throughout your life.

Nichlaus continued: "I think the big thing about doing anything is striving to improve everyday. I'm learning new shots every day. "

Which new shots or skills do you need to learn? Which ones are you trying to improve? Are you keeping up with the hot areas in your technical field? Do you have the skills to remain, not only employable, but also to thrive in your career? If you ---your skills and competencies---don't grow, improve, and evolve you too, as in nature, will face extinction. You will become a professional dinosaur.

It's up to you to make sure you are continually improving, growing, and getting better. It's up to you to make sure you never go out of style! It's up to you to practice life long learning. Therefore,

Have a learning perspective.
Be on the lookout for teachable moments. Approach each learning experience, whether you want to be there or not, with the questions: What can I learn? What one or two things can I take away that I can use immediately? Who else would find value in this learning?

Benchmark your skills periodically.
. Do it at least once a year. And, for those in a fast moving profession or industry every three months may be required. In other words, what's in your work portfolio? Is it filled with skills or competencies that are up-to-date and sought after? Or, is it filled with skills which are obsolete and, therefore, not very portable?

Create a learning plan.
Produce a plan that covers what you want to learn, how you are going to learn it, and when. Set monthly, quarterly, or annually learning goals. And be sure to write them down. Good intentions are soon forgotten. And put your plan where you can see it (perhaps your day planner) to be reminded of important actions you need to take.

Stay competitive.
Pinpoint specific skills and knowledge that you need to acquire or up-grade. Then identify the professional development activities that are available to you. They can include mentor relationships, special assignments at work, in-house and public seminars, professional conferences, the internet and on-line, university education, books, journals, audio-tapes, etc.

Have a burning desire to improve and grow.
Just as a company invests in its own research and development, you need to invest in your own growth and development. Remember, as you never outgrow your need for milk, you never outgrow your need for learning.

Marcia Zidle, the 'people smarts' coach, works with business leaders to quickly solve their people management headaches so they can concentrate on their #1 job ­ to grow and increase profits. She offers free help through Leadership Briefing, a weekly e-newsletter with practical tips on leadership style, employee motivation, recruitment and retention and relationship management. Subscribe by going to http://leadershiphooks.com/ and get the bonus report "61 Leadership Time Savers and Life Savers". Marcia is the author of the What Really Works Handbooks ­ resources for managers on the front line and the Power-by-the-Hour programs ­ fast, convenient, real life, affordable courses for leadership and staff development. She is available for media interviews, conference presentations and panel discussions on the hottest issues affecting the workplace today. Contact Marcia at 800-971-7619.

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