flexYou want freedom?  Continuously improve yourself.

I am writing this on the eve of my trip to North Carolina to attend an international training conference with guest speakers Donald Trump and Darren Hardy.  I booked my flights last minute.  Do you think I paid a ton for flights?  YOU BET.  Will it be worth it?  YOU BET.  I will have my notebook, recording device, and full attention so that I may take even one golden nugget of information to use for my success.

Self Check:  How often do you read a book, study online, or attend attend a seminar to learn something new?  Or do you only go to MANDATORY training put on by your employer?  Or are you simply content just realzing that you already know everything there is to know?

Major truth – continuous learning will lead to long term success, but you have to be focused.  You have to take it seriously.   At every great training event, less than half of the people there take it seriously.  And of those half, only some really take notes.  And of those that take notes, very few of them apply that learning.  And of those that apply the learning, only some REALLY apply it and ask for more.  The same applies with people who say they read – only some of them actually use what they learn.  So many people tell me that they understand the importance of continuous learning, but very few actually apply it – because it is not easy.  Boo hoo. If you want to make the most of your learning, use what I call your RADAR. 


1) Read

Always be a student of the world.  Find topics that intrigue you and then seek out the information that will help you learn.  Find books on self development, business, marketing, or whatever topics interest you and start reading.  This also applies to attending seminars, webinars, training events, etc.  Just go out and find the information.  You could even pick a theme for each month and focus your learning in one specific area.  For example, if you want to learn about Facebook Marketing, find some books, magazines, online newsletters, or attend a social media bootcamp.  Do that for an entire month and in a year, you can speak knowledgably about 12 different topics!  Instant credibility!

2) Absorb

Just reading, watching, or listening is not enough.  How do you capture the knowledge?  Write it down, record it, and teach others.  A great tool that I use in all of my meetings is my Echo Smartpen which combines a pen and paper with a recording device so you can go back and re-listen to what someone said anywhere in your notes.  Teaching it to others means that you are able to succinctly sum up the key points and get them to understand the material.  Teaching it is the highest form of mastery that you have grasped the concepts.  Next time you learn something new, try and explain it to someone.

3) Do

Most people stop after steps one and two.  What’s the point of learning something new if you don’t actually apply it?  Only then will you realize that you don’t completely understand what you have learned!  Also, how many people take great notes, have great audio, and then never look at those notes again?  Sound familiar? Go back and re-read your notes and set a plan in action to apply those new skills TODAY.  Try it – I challenge you to add one new skill to your arsenal this week.  Get out of your comfort zone and try something new.

4) Analyze

Okay, if you have past the DO step, you are in good shape.  But to get the most out of it, reflect on the success or challenges of the new skills you have learned.  What worked?  What didn’t?  What was missing – what knowledge should be added to this?  How can I re-apply these new skills in different areas and who should I talk to/what should I read to find out more?  If you take the time to analyze your actions and be truly self aware, you get much more value from everything that you learn.  We can’t epect to get it right the first time, so why would you stop there?

5) Repeat

Awesome!  We learned something new, we tried it out, and we thought about the results.  Now repeat that.  Go and learn some more.  Add to your knowledge base, ask an expert, get out of your comfort zone and just get it done.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it:

Pick a topic this week and start reading.  Watch some videos.  Take notes, and then try it out.  Then think about what you could do better.  Then learn some more, and repeat that.  Then go and teach someone what you have learned.  Better yet, host a seminar on it!  Become an expert.  To kick start your mojo, have a look at my sample reading list:

  • Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill – if you don’t know about this book, just go get it.
  • StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath – great self test with a different twist.  More focused on what you can do with your unique skills
  • “What’s Stopping You” by Rick Hoogendoorn – Rick is a friend of mine, one heck of a realtor, and also supremely committed to helping those around him.  He took the works of Byron Katie and put together some great insights about how we spin our wheels by having our foot on both the gas and the brake at the same time!

Of course there are so many options out there, the key is to just get started.  subscribe to newsletters, trade publications, and attend local events.  And don’t worry about anyone else – focus on yourself.

My good friend, Steven Bertrand of www.rollingmotivation.com  just said, Today I read a book, they said was a waste of time, I learned a new skill they said I will never need and I met someone who they said couldn’t teach me anything…So when I wake tomorrow I will do all things they can’t!”

image:  Pink Sherbet Photography


Joe Girard
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    9 replies to "Are You Truly a Professional? Then Develop Yourself"

    • Chris Ruffell

      Great post Joe, some great books listed there, a few I've read and even more on the 'to-read' list. Perhaps not perfectly related to this list, but equally important for managers and leaders alike, I'd recommend Daniel Pink's 'Drive' book. I'd wager it's worth a re-read every couple years, it's that good!

      • Joe Girard

        Thanks!  I will definitely check it out!  Keep those suggestions coming – I just glanced at my shelf and have found a bit of extra space…

    • Susan Marcotte

      Joe, I could not agree more.  The trip will be worth every penny invested in yourself and your business.
      A couple of books to add to your list might be "Goals" by Brian Tracy and "The Traveler's Gift" by Andy Andrews.  Just ask me if you would like to borrow either one. 
      I will certainly be looking up a few of your recommendations.
      Cheers and safe travels.

      • Joe Girard

        Looking forward to many adventures together!!

    • Philip Bisset-Covaneiro

      Thanks for sharing Joe. Have an incredible time at the conference and look forward to hearing you plans and actions steps upon your return.
      The Greatest investment we can ever make is in ourselves!! You have hit this right on the head. Whenever I am stressed, I open a book, article, video, or any other type of material created by someone else and work on thinking differently and growing myself to look at my obstacles as wonderful opportunities. I recommend reading Robin Sharma 🙂

      • Joe Girard

        Awesome!  I will check that out!  I always feel like when I read a book, it is like having an amazing conversation with someone about something they are passionate about.  It takes alot of efort for someone to caputure their ideas to print. 

    • […] Are You Truly a Professional?  Then Develop Yourself (joegirard.ca) […]

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    • […] These are some basic fundamentals and should help you on the path to becoming the leader you aspire to be.  However, if you want to be a great leader and put your stamp on your career, you have to constantly develop yourself both personally and professionally.  It will not only be rewarding for your career, but investing in yourself is the greatest gift you can give others.  Nothing is more rewarding than leading a team of people who you helped achieve their own goals.  And to see the spark of passion in others will just encourage you to do more!  For more personal development ideas, check out my post, "Are you truly a professional? Then develop yourself." […]

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