Become a Student Again
As kids, each passing academic grade prepares us for the next; growth is written into the design of life. The academic rigor progressively become more challenging as you step from one grade to the next, so it is no surprise that you should end each year with more knowledge and skills than you started with.
As adults, the learning curve slows not because we have mastered knowledge, but because it is on us to pursue new knowledge. And let’s be honest, most people struggle to find motivation. If it takes sacrifice of time, money or energy, we often table it for another day which is code for never. For most of us, we get stuck in routines that do not challenge us to develop new skills and/or provide new ways of thinking if we do not have to.
I spent 20 years in accounting and finance and while I progressed up the ladder in job titles and saw some more complex projects, I allowed myself to become stagnant. I wasn’t learning anything new and my job lacked any space for creative freedom, so I found myself on the wheel day in and day out. At the end of each year, I didn’t feel much different in what I was offering life from the year before. I was complacent and I was okay with that because I wasn’t motivated to seek more.
But here’s the thing…you don’t know what you are missing until you find it…or it finds you. I was awakened to the idea and gift of self development when I opened myself up to the idea of starting a side business. My family encountered some unforeseen circumstances and I need an extra stream of income so I started marketing an online business.
When you start something new and unfamiliar, it feels like you are in elementary school again. You are missing skills and knowledge so it creates a gap you have to fill. I was excited to have and build a business that was uniquely mine, but I learned quickly that I did not have all the skills to be successful right off the bat. Additionally, I learned fairly quickly that the most critical factor I needed to work on first was ME and that very thing was going to push me outside of my comfort zone. Picture a shy accountant who is used to working behind a screen starting a business that now demands that she become visible and even talk to strangers. I had to overcome my own innate personality to start!!
As Rachel Hollis, one of my favorites in the self development and leadership space says, in a day and age where there is so much access to free information on any subject and so many people to follow and learn from, there is no excuse to not be able to figure anything out. Never has there been a better time to learn. From google searches to podcasts to Audible books, we can become students with very little cost or effort.
And I want to suggest that no matter what your background or pursuits, you should be doing this. What I have learned through my own professional development journey over the last 4 years is that the mind needs it. Your brain is a muscle that was designed to be flexed through learning and if you aren’t doing it, you are starving your brain of its potential. Not only has learning increased my knowledge and skill set, it has CHANGED me.
I personally started with books on mindset…which has brought about a heightened awareness of my own thoughts. I had no idea how much negativity and doubt I invited in because I lacked awareness of my own way of thinking. I now root my day in gratitude and goals and am careful with language I use all
because I took the time to dive into how your thoughts shape your action shape your destiny. As Henry Ford once said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right.”
I have to admit that I have come to fall in love with self development, but that is because I have found thought leaders I enjoy and there are so many different ways to consume the information now. As with anything that can add long-term sustainable value, I have made professional development a habit…even if it is a few pages or 5 minutes of an Audible book each day. But truly that investment has given me back 100 fold in ways much bigger than marketing and growing a business. It has shaped a much more fulfilling experience in work and life.