I recently heard someone say, “You can’t outperform your knowledge.” It took me a minute to fully absorb the insight. You may be putting in your 100%, but your 100% only goes as far as your current knowledge goes. You can’t be any more successful than your current knowledge allows you to be. So in order to achieve greater success, you must consistently increase your knowledge.
In business, this means you must learn more in order to earn more. In this age of technology and networking, our opportunities for growth and education are abundant. Start with a list of skills needed for your career path, and then be willing to think outside the box to find ways to master these skills.
Interview Successful People in Your Field
Gleaning wisdom from the experience of those who have walked the path several miles ahead of us is always an effective learning method. Schedule coffee or lunch with such a person who is willing to share their experiences with you and then prepare your questions. Jo Miller, of Be Leaderly, suggests thinking of questions in four different categories: Stories, Situations, Self-Awareness, and Skill-Building.
1. Stories – Ask questions that will spur them to tell their success story, such as:
- “What do you think has been the biggest contributing factor to your success?”
- “If you could tell your 5-years-ago-self anything, what would it be?”
- “How did you learn to deal with setbacks and failures?”
2. Situations – Ask for advice on specific situations, such as:
- “My supervisor is difficult to work under. How do you think I should handle this?”
- “Here is where I am on my career journey. What do you think should be my next step?”
- “I am considering switching careers. Do you have any tips to keep in mind?”
3. Self-Awareness – Sometimes it’s hard to see your own strengths and weaknesses. Ask them for insights, such as:
- “What areas do I need to improve in?”
- “What do you think is my biggest weakness?”
- “What do you think is my greatest strength?”
4. Skill-Building – Ask for specific “how to” guidance for skills you want and may need to master, such as:
- “How do I keep my business details organized?”
- “How can I become more confident on the phone?”
- “How do I build my subscription list?”
Build Communication and Leadership Skills by Volunteering
Taking on a volunteer position gets you out of your comfort zone and into unending opportunities for learning and growth. It can feel awkward at first, but your adaptability and perseverance will build confidence. As you communicate with other volunteers and with those they assist, you will develop a stronger sense of compassion, an ability to communicate with those who differ from you, and a broader perspective on the world. Learning new skills and strengthening the skills you already have keeps your mind active and alert.
If you’re ready to get your foot into the volunteer world, there are several resources for finding the perfect fit for you. Check if your city has a volunteer center. They should have a booklet or other resource listing volunteer opportunities in your area. You can also check out Volunteer Match or Idea List for some leads.
If you’re in the San Antonia or Austin area and pursuing a digital marketing career, check out the Digital Creative Institute. They offer a 12-month program and connect fresh talent with local businesses.
Check your local university for certificate programs in your field. Many of them offer various courses. Or if you want a truly unique educational experience without the debt sentence, check out Lumerit Education.
Many professional organizations and societies, such as the American Chemical Societyand the Entrepreneurs’ Organization, offer field-specific courses and other educational opportunities. Attend trade conventions in your area. Network with peers in your field. They may know of educational opportunities to enhance your skills.
There are an endless number of online courses for an endless number of skills.
- Microsoft Certifications
- Microsoft EXCEL Courses from Desk Bright
- Adobe Certifications
- Quickbooks Certification
- Google Training & Certifications
Resources offering courses in various fields
There are far more ways to learn to earn, so feel free to add your favorite resources below. The opportunities are limitless if you decide to think outside the box.
What are you going to learn next?