Never Stop Learning
A critical element of professional growth is continuing growth through education – formal and informal. Talking with other industry leaders, there are some consistent elements that are key to success.
Do it for fun
Remember when you were younger, learning something new and being lit up with the accomplishment of knowing? Then sharing something new you learned. Whether you were five, 10, or 20 years old, and whether it was learning to ride a bike without training wheels, throw a ball well, or make a cake for the first time; learning provides positive proof of self-accomplishment. We all have many moments of success based on learning. This is true at every age in our personal, professional, and retirement lives.
Learn what is changing
When I work with new clients, I love asking questions to learn about their business, how they have become successful, and what they want to change in their companies. I often ask about how their products and services help their end customers. What I learn through questions, is what makes a difference for their clients and the specific strategies or tactics that have improved their companies. I then use my industry learning from a variety of sources to develop strategies and recommendations for growth and change.
We live and work in an industry that is changing and evolving rapidly. New technologies, new inks, new papers, and new applications are implemented every day in companies around the globe. As a consultant, learning about innovative technologies, strategies, and new products have enabled me to be successful in guiding clients. I focus my learning on change so I can provide strategic input to enable my clients to grow their companies. Learning is a choice I continue to make every day.
Types of learning
Learning is both formal and informal. Many people are fortunate to work in companies with formal learning and professional development programs. With formal training departments, learning is part of the structured performance goal for all managers or employees. Companies that thrive have the flexibility to enable employees to set personal learning goals to improve their knowledge and skills in areas outside of their daily responsibilities.
One colleague shared with her manager a personal goal for becoming a better speaker. Although it wasn’t part of her current role, her manager encouraged her to get outside training through Toastmasters to improve her presentation skills. Strong presentation skills have enabled her to grow throughout her career.
Companies that support employee learning with formal and informal training are often highly rated for employee satisfaction. If you work in a company with a formal learning and development program take advantage of the opportunity to acquire and improve skills and learn something new. If you work in a smaller company without a formal training department, you get to be your own CEO of learning.
Where do we go for our education?
We no longer have to go to the reference section of a library to find source materials, as some of us did when writing papers during our school years. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine not having a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips — internet search, YouTube, online data, apps, and research reports. So many sources — books, magazines, online courses, streaming programs, webinars, workshops, blogs, podcasts, and social media. The internet and the digital world have made us more connected and provide more learning opportunities for our personal and professional development. So how do you find reliable sources for your learning?
There are many resources for public and informal learning. Seek out experts sharing their knowledge in articles, books, videos, podcasts, or streaming on other platforms. Look for the methods that work for you, allowing you to be an active learner for life.
Why seek out new sources of learning?
I am using apps on my phone that I didn’t know about one year ago. I am reading blogs that I didn’t read six months ago. I have installed several new software tools on my computer in the last month to help me work more efficiently. And I am enabling clients to market services like Informed Delivery, that didn’t exist three years ago.
My colleague shared his inspiration for learning. He said, what we knew yesterday isn’t all we need to be successful tomorrow. It’s simply not enough to rely on information and knowledge from the past. We need innovative ideas and techniques as our jobs and companies evolve and grow.
Thriving companies in the print, mail and packaging space that have adopted new technologies and learned how to leverage them are able to provide exceptional service and value to their clients. With new knowledge and new techniques, companies evolve and prosper.
The reward in learning is the immeasurable joy and sense of accomplishment in mastering a new skill or contributing to the growth and change at your company. What have you learned today?