Sharpen Your Saw by Continuously Learning

What does a sharp saw have to do with lifelong learning? For all you Covey fans, you know Dr. Steven Covey coined the phrase "sharpen the saw" in his highly acclaimed book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. To me, I think about a saw sharpener as a complicated device that I would never be able to use. Doing an image search on "saw sharpener" on Google shows 423 different pictures of saw sharpening devices that require you to know various things and exert various amounts of effort to "sharpen a saw" in the traditional sense. Now there are probably close to this many ways we can keep our own saws sharp by continuously learning. I won't bore you with all of them, but I will outline a few of the ones I've found helpful below.

1) Join a professional organization and use their training outlets - You may already be part of an organization like Toastmasters, a local writer's workshop group, or something else of that nature. Perhaps there are other organizations out there that might also suit your needs? If you're not sure, ask someone how they've done what they do, and then do it!

2) Pursue an advanced degree - For some, an MBA or masters in something job related is what you need to advance up the ranks and to stay sharp in your current job. If this is you, there are so many different resources available to you now, some online, some traditional, some that blend the two, and definitely you can find something that will fit in your schedule if traditional schooling is for you.

3) Certification - For others, an industry-specific certification is all that's needed to stay sharp. Just like a traditional college, you can do self-paced study or take a class online to get the certification you need to move up.

4) Use your company's training - Many larger companies offer in-house training to associates once they reach a certain level. What have you got to lose by talking to your manager, supervisor, or HR department about the classes that might be available to you at your current level? If you're fortunate, you'll get a few different ideas, and your employer will probably pay for these classes and give you time to complete the necessary materials.

5) Read a book or a website that's topic specific to what you want to learn - If you're looking for a good book or for that perfect website, ask someone else you know who is an authority on what you need. There are so many books published every year, you're bound to find one or two that suit your needs. And the web is full of things to help you learn more about what you need to know.

6) Find a mentor - My last piece of advice is something you can do at anytime, and that is finding a mentor. Seek someone out in your company who knows what you need to know and ask them questions. Buy them lunch and pick their brain. Find someone in our organization who knows what you want to know and ask them if you can give them a call or have lunch together. Or look online and e-mail an expert. You'd be surprised at how many people are willing to help, if you'll just ask them. And maybe they'll even become a formal mentor of yours and be willing to invest some time in helping you advance your career and your life.

Phil Gerbyshak leads a team of IT help desk professionals in Milwaukee, WI, and finds that sharing his knowledge is a crucial component in his success as a leader and as a person. Phil's personal philosophy is paraphrased from Tim Sanders' fantastic book Love is the Killer App: "Share your knowledge, your network, and your love. The rest will follow." Read more of Phil's ideas at http://makeitgreat.org

In The News:

Social Anxiety and Success  Harvard Business Review
Connecting businesses with success  The Western Weekender
Bristol Harvest Festival was a success  Addison County Independent
The concept of success  Otago Daily Times

Blessing The Money You Spend

A young girl opens a birthday card from her grand... Read More

Success Secrets - What They Taught You About Success Back in 10th Grade

Let me say this to get it out of the... Read More

Evaluating Your Associations (Part One)

If you were to evaluate the major influences in your... Read More

A Pyramid of Success

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between a... Read More

Success Is Easy, But So Is Neglect

People often ask me how I became successful in that... Read More

How to Make Success a Habit

Want to make success a habit in your life? If... Read More

Learn To Fail - Its Good For You!

As a child you probably learned failing is bad...Failing meant... Read More

To Succeed Greatly, You Must...

(1) Climb up from under the limitations of circum­stances and... Read More

Learning From Failure--What To Do When You Blow It!

Becoming successful is not easy. We all get tossed around... Read More

The Amazing Success Secret Anyone Can Start Using Today

However there is one success secret that costs nothing. And... Read More

Knowledge Is Not Power

Whoever first said that knowledge is power was probably selling... Read More

How To Begin Your Journey To Success

Becoming successful requires a lifestyle change. It requires that you... Read More

The Formula For Failure and Success

(Excepted from the book The Five Major Pieces to the... Read More

Staying Cool When the Job Heats Up

Jobs are heating up. We're all feeling the pinch of... Read More

Two Great Success Tips - Read And Apply What You Learn And Do It Now!

Today I was glad that I had bothered to read... Read More

A Simple Idea from a Billionaire

It's simple and powerful.The philosophy of successful people is often... Read More

It?s Sure to Succeed

There are "How to" seminars on virtually every business topic.... Read More

8 Ultimate Secrets Skyrocket Your Success!

Whenever I ask people this question, "what do you really... Read More

Success After Failure - Even Genghis Khan Lost Some Early Battles

Both the worst and the best of the great achievers... Read More

The Bulging Right Pocket

It was one of the worst periods of time in... Read More

Living A Life Without Limits

The starting point of all great success and achievement is... Read More

How Important is Your Lemonade Stand?

When my neighbor's child was about 8, he decided that... Read More

Persistence is Tops

To take the online road to success is not, contrary... Read More

Chinese Gooseberries and Oprah?

Oprah and Harpo Productions, consistently reap awe-inspiring progress and record-breaking... Read More

Success Through Work And Training

Most self-help truths are obvious but obvious truths are often... Read More