As entrepreneurs we see new opportunities unfolding daily. New technologies emerge regularly that we need to master to succeed. These opportunities are wonderful, but, at times, they can be intimidating. I often hear people say they are “too old” to learn. They’ll trot out that tired and now-psychologically-discredited diddy “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
First of all, you are not a dog and learning today is not some cute little “trick.” It is vital for life. Life-long learning is energizing, stimulating, and yes, it is good for business.
So, how do you do it? Here are 10 steps that can help you in business and in life to embrace learning as a competitive advantage –- and life-giving force:
#1 –- Have an open mind
This is critical for starting. You can’t reach out with folded arms. Change your thinking from “I can’t do that” to “I’ll figure out a way to make that happen.” I like to call this moving from “No Way to Not Yet” thinking. Instead of telling yourself why you can’t do it, tell yourself you might not be able to do it yet, but you’re willing pay the price. Take courses, hire professionals, read books, watch educational videos, and do whatever is necessary to learn new skills that help you. This is your critical first step to get ahead.
# 2 – Get help from the best
You don’t have to do it on your own. Today we have access to the best brain power through books, audio & video recording, and live coaching. Be willing to part with your TME (Time, Money, Energy) to get what you need. Find the people who know what you need to know and be willing to pay them to help you. Hire pros for their time through PayPal, WorldPay, Bitcoin or other technologies. Use tools like Skype or Google+ Hangouts. Saturate your mind with books, magazines and quality learning.
#3 – Be willing to give up activities that don’t help you
This is a tough one. It is so deceptively easy to be drawn to a dramatic story on the news. Turn off that radio. Unplug your TV. Fill that wasted time with learning from great sources. Learn market-valued skills so people want to hire you!
#4 – Focus!
You’ve got to focus to achieve mastery. No, even you can’t multi-task, you over-achieving salesperson! You could try to trick yourself into believing you can, but psychologists tell us you can’t. (See “Why MultiTasking Doesn’t Work” http://buff.ly/1va5B94) Shut off your social media, let your phone calls go to voice mail and pour yourself into the task at hand. This is part of paying the price and it is worth it.
#5 – Practice
There’s an old Russian saying, “Repetition is the mother of learning.” That applies to us today. You have to practice the right way (think coaching!). Make sure you practice the right way. I think of the words of my Judo instructor from years ago, Toyoji Matsumoto san – “Do it 1,000 times till it becomes natural –- then do it another 1,000 times!”
#6 – Play With YouTube
YouTube has to be one of the greatest “How To Learn” tools we’ve seen in the past 50 years. Be willing to wade through some of the junk videos to find the gems. Pay the price and spend time to learn through this rich reservoir of resources.
#7 – Have Fun with Immersion
I’m currently studying Spanish. I find that the more I experience words and phrases from books, apps on my iPhone, talking with native Spanish speakers, watching Spanish videos and other exposures to the language, the better I do. Find multiple ways to saturate your mind with the topic you want to learn. This will facilitate your learning and speed up the process.
#8 – Use Mind Mapping to Get An Advantage
My friend, Phil Chambers, is the World Mind Mapping Champion http://terrybrock.com/mind-mapping-world-champion-shares-secrets/ . He describes this tool as a way to learn great amounts of information in a visual form. It was developed by thought leader Tony Buzan http://www.tonybuzan.com/ and is a great way to organize details and learn better. Google this one and learn about it.
#9 – Don’t Give Up!
Have an aggressive, determined attitude towards learning. There are times when you’ll meet what Stephen Pressfield calls “The Resistence” in his book, Turning Pro http://buff.ly/1va5jyZ. Eventually, you’ll meet that wet-blanket of “I don’t want to do this” kind of feeling and thinking. Embracing a “never say no” attitude will motivate you.
#10 – Have fun!
Always remember why you’re learning. If it isn’t fun, you decrease learning. Keep it fun in productive ways that keep you motivated.
Learning gives you a strong competitive advantage today. It also keeps you alive mentally. Go for it!