Are you a different person from the person you were ten years ago? Most people would answer yes. Will you be a different person ten years from now? Again, probably yes.
“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they are finished.”
– Dr. Dan Gilbert
Continue to learn.
People may ask you what you want to do or be in five years. Maybe you have an answer. Regardless, it is important to be a lifelong learner, listen to others and network. Think about the truly great people that have made significant contributions in industry, politics, art and even great orators and leaders.
Most, if not all, honed their skills and knowledge by being a lifelong learner and listening to others
Unless you are born with special talent, like a gifted musician, you will not realize your highest potential in isolation. Seemingly unrelated issues can be joined together for huge gain.
As an example, Steve Jobs, cofounder of Apple, Inc., dropped out of college in the mid-seventies and took a calligraphy class. Steve was interested in calligraphy even though it had no practical application in his life at the time. But when the first Macintosh computer was released in 1984, Jobs did something unprecedented.
He provided a variety of fonts, for users. Fonts as they relate to computers were seemingly an unrelated issue at the time, but today it is both important and standard functionality.
Steve Jobs was not a computer guy; he was the visionary and marketing genius behind Apple. Steve Wozniak, cofounder of Apple, Inc., was the computer genius behind the company. Apple might not have been in existence if the two Steve’s had not collaborated.
Steve Jobs started Apple computer after Steve Wozniak, a buddy and cofounder, showed him a primitive computer that he was working on with his computer club. To Steve Wozniak, the computer was a hobby, but Steve Jobs had a vision for this new computer and the rest is history.
You may not be able to do it alone and you may not even know what the “it” is until you listen to other people. With people who bring different expertise to the table, you may be able piece disparate information together to produce something new and extraordinary.
Regardless, forming a partnership, putting together your team, and piecing together disparate information all generally require a lifetime commitment to learning and listening to others (networking) in order to create something extraordinary.
Be sure to network.
Larry King interviewed over 30,000 guests during his TV and radio career before he passed in 2021. He gained a lot of wisdom and one of Larry’s lessons was as follows: “I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. If I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening.”
The point is, that in this complicated and connected world, creating something new and/or a paradigm shift in the way we think about and do things probably requires collaboration and input from a variety of sources. That is why it is so important to expand your circle of professional and social contacts by networking. As an avid networker, it is essential to spend time around smart people and to listen and ask questions.
Some of the benefits will help you by:
- Being exposed to lots of pieces of information or puzzle pieces that may seem unrelated, but one day, you may fit the puzzle pieces together and create an amazing product or service.
- Having a contact to call when you have important question. I have a buddy that constantly networks. He is constantly looking for best practices and asks what systems his competitor’s use as well as what processes his competitors use to manage their business.
- Meeting people that may offer you a job or even your dream job.
- Learning lots of interesting information that may be useful in your professional, personal or financial life.
- Feeling good about yourself for reading, learning and / or interacting with others and developing your networking and social skills.
- Identifying what type of job, career or industry appeals to you.
- Identifying a mentor.
- Building a network of long-lasting relationships.
No matter what, through it all, stay focused and enjoy the ride.
For more articles like this, visit the professional development section of the site.
Alan L. Oppenheimer, CPA, MBA has worked for both large and medium size companies and experienced a variety of management styles and business situations over his 40+ years of professional tenure. Alan has also consulted for several companies in situations such as mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcy, bank loans, forecasting, and year-end audit preparation.
For more insight and direction for productively handling issues that are encountered in the workplace, learn more in his quick read, Workplace Secrets Revealed (Passing the Baton to the Next Generation).