We seem to value “lifelong learners” in business – you see this as a desired characteristic in job postings and those who are “successful” are typically called out as such. What is a lifelong learner, though?
We all learn every day from our experiences, both personal and professional, in our interactions with clients, employees and even our family. Lifelong learners, though, are more intentional, I think. They seek out learning opportunities to help them grow, whether personally or professionally.
I do not really consider myself a lifelong learner in this way. I desire to learn so I can improve but have not really focused on a single objective or learning. I do participate in peer leadership groups, attend networking events with interesting speakers, and listen to podcasts about business. But there’s no intentionality. I am advised regularly of business books that I should read with advice and methodologies to help me in my business but I find some good nuggets of value in these books but can’t figure out a holistic way to implement them. Without execution, there’s limited value in all this learning!
Why do I find it hard to execute? As a small business, there is the constant struggle with resources and hours in the day. That’s an easy excuse. Lots of business owners get down to it and implement their learnings and because they get real value from it, they keep doing it. Really, it’s about discipline and accountability.
I am a person that needs help with discipline and accountability. It’s why I advocate that business owners participate in a peer leadership group or work with a coach. For the past 2 years, I’ve been a member of Entrepreneur Organization’s Accelerator program and have attended the quarterly learning days based upon the book “Scaling Up” by Verne Harnish. Each quarter, I walk away with “a-has” that I excitedly share with the team. After a couple of weeks, though, it’s back to the grind with all that learning put aside.
Recently, I committed to execution. It’s not just snippets that I gain from my learning days at EOA but a collective effort to use the methodologies from the book to grow the necessary processes in the company. Honestly, it doesn’t really matter which book or methodology you use but that you commit yourself and your team to move forward consistently using the same toolset and to hold one another accountable for hitting your goals. In having committed to this execution mindset, I find that I am getting a lot more out of other learning events I attend and walking away with a set of to-dos that actually get done.