Why You Should Never Stop Learning

Never stop learningWhen you leave full-time education and enter the world of work, you’re probably still aware that you have much more to learn. On the job training and being sent on courses by your employer are expected and welcomed, because you know you need to keep learning to become successful. However, when your career progresses, and you become more experienced, you may start to feel as if your days of training and learning are behind you, but if you want to excel, you need to accept that you will never stop learning. The best entrepreneurs and most successful business people are always looking for ways to expand their knowledge, improve their skills and keep up to date with any developments, both in their own industry and the broader environment. Why does this thirst for knowledge and capacity for learning matter?Surely if you’ve been doing your job successfully, you’ll be more than competent? Well, if you’ve worked hard and studied diligently, you should be, but you don’t live in a vacuum. The outside world is constantly shifting and changing, and as more research is done on management and business skills, the more effective training becomes, and the more insight is gained into the best ways of working.

Continuing with formal education when you start work

Starting a new job, especially your first can be a stressful experience, and there will be a lot to take in to begin with. It’s probably wise to concentrate on getting to grips with your work before considering taking up a further education course, but once you are familiar with your new routine and have become accustomed to your role, considering taking a course or series of courses can be both rewarding and a big boost to your career prospects. You might have a clear idea of what you would like to study.For example, if you have entered the business world with a college degree in an academic subject, it would be logical to pursue an MBA. Alternatively, you could have secured a job working in a legal environment and discovered you have a passion for the criminal justice system. To make a move from the administrative side of the law to the front-line role of police officer or FBI agent, further specialist study would be required. You would then need to undertake some research online to find out about available qualifications at schools teaching criminal justice courses. Even if you don’t have a particular career advancement or direction in mind, by adding to your achievements and showing the dedication to complete a course of study while working full time successfully, it will be an impressive addition to your resume.

Continuing education for entrepreneurs

Most people who wish to start their own business don’t set themselves up as soon as they leave full-time education. Very few would have the resources or experience to start a business at a young age, and although there are some notable exceptions, for most people, there is a need to gain experience and confidence before embarking on their own venture. Whether you plan to rise to the top of an existing business or go your own way with a start-up, the principles of benefitting from further education still hold true. Again, for business hopefuls, an MBA is a logical progression to make, but there are many other relevant courses in business, management, marketing, personnel, and related subjects that would be useful for you. If you are thinking of setting up a business in a particular sector that you feel you don’t know enough about, you could enroll on a course that will give you the background knowledge you need, doing an engineering course if you wish to go into manufacturing, for example. The practical experience of what you will learn on the job, coupled with the complete understanding and knowledge of a related specialist subject will give you the best foundation from which to start your own business.

Being able to admit you don’t know something is a strength

Many people feel uncomfortable admitting that they don’t know how to do something, or they don’t have the answer to a question they’re being asked. You feel inadequate, and fear the other person will judge you on this one failure. However, this is almost invariably an irrational fear, for only the most incompetent of bosses would make a judgment about you based on such inconsequential evidence. Look at any top business leader,and you will see they will be quite open about any lack of knowledge they have. Pretending to know something when you don’t will lead you into a far more complicated and stressful situation, as you try to cope with a process you haven’t mastered. The chances are you’ll soon be pouring salt into the wound by making mistakes, some of which could be costly ones. It’s far better to say if you don’t know. Your boss and your colleagues will respect you for your honesty rather than judging you, and once they know you need training on a particular function, they will be able to arrange this for you. Of course, the exception to this is when you have repeatedly been shown how to do something or told certain facts,and you persistently fail to learn the lessons. If you find yourself in this situation, then either you are not trying hard enough, or you’ve made a misjudgment about the kind of work you’re suited to. Either way, you need to take action to correct your inefficiency, or start looking for a different job!

Being able to admit you’re wrong

In much the same way as many people don’t like to admit they don’t know something, neither do they like to admit when they’re wrong. Much as you strive always to be correct and see things the right way, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t slip up now and again. Bluffing your way through or refusing to acknowledge your mistake will only make you look foolish and arrogant. You will get far more respect if you put your hands up to an error, and make every effort to correct it and find the right people to help you get back on track. Making mistakes is one of the most important ways of learning, and the knowledge we gain through making errors is often the most important and the most resonant. Taking your lead from industry giants again, you’ll see they have all made mistakes along their road to success and fortune. Very often these will have been pretty catastrophic, like failing in an early business venture. What these people learned was that if they didn’t repeat those same mistakes, then their next effort should succeed. They accepted and took on board the lessons they learned instead of accepting defeat, and this is an essential skill for business leaders and entrepreneurs to acquire.

Remembering that things are constantly changing

Learning isn’t confined to the essential skills and accumulated know-how of doing your job. The world is constantly turning, and the pace of change and development is accelerating all the time. Added to that are the continually shifting social and economic events and political backgrounds under which you are working. If you don’t keep an eye on what is happening in your industry and with the world in general, you won’t be able to keep pace with change. You could lose out on new contracts or important clients; you might fail to implement key new technologies that improve your productivity and transform your work processes. You are unlikely to spot new trends and be in a position to capitalize on your foresight, and if you haven’t got the latest information about economic forecasts, you could find your financial planning is compromised. Therefore, it’s vitally important to add to your knowledge of these external influences each day, learning everything you can about all the disparate elements that could affect your company or your business. Of course, you could argue that with experience and success comes a team of employees and outside specialists who can take care of all this for you. There is an element of truth in this, in that as your business grows or you advance through your company ranks, you will have access to far more advisors and staff to carry out the work of keeping up to date. However, if you are wise, you will realize that although you can have many people working for you, in order to know if they are performing well and giving you the best advice, you need to have enough awareness of what is going on in the world and your industry to enable you to appraise their contribution.

If you want to be the best, make the right decisions, and of course, make as much money as possible, you need to embrace the career model of continual learning and personal growth. Find some inspiration in the journeys of some of the best-known entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who would be the first to agree that you should never stop learning.

About Mohit Tater

Mohit is the co-founder and editor of Entrepreneurship Life, a place where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and business owners can find wide ranging information, advice, resources, and tools for starting, running, and growing their businesses.

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