other day I attended a half day program where seven presenters
all with high level positions in the IT (Information Technology) field
gave us their take on career opportunities. Even though
each focused on their own area of expertise and how they had reached their
positions, each of the seven stressed that the two most important qualities
considered when hiring and promoting were interpersonal skills and continual
learning. Of course, you say, with technology moving and changing so quickly,
keeping up with learning is a given. But I say to you, that to succeed
in any endeavor and/or career, we must be learning constantly. And there
are so many ways to learn on a daily basis. Let me count the ways!
For example, one of my favorite speakers, Lou Heckler, was recently extolling the virtues of Stephen Kings book On Writing:A Memoir of the Craft and suggesting that if we substitute the word speaker for writer and speaking for writing we would learn a plethora of ways to become a more effective speaker. I suggest we substitute the word storyteller and storytelling. Youll be amazed how what King writes fits for us. Besides books, there are so many enlightening articles on the Internet. I know that I use a lot of paper, but when I find an article loaded with excellent information, I will print it out and slip it into my briefcase. Then when Im waiting in line at the bank or post office or for appointment, I pull out one of those articles and learn something rather than fuming about waiting so long. I suggest that you set aside at least an hour a day just for reading and a goal to read at least one book a week. Before you know it, you will be reading two or three a week.
Attend informational meetings, programs, concerts, seminars, and workshops. Again, you may explain that you dont have the time and/or the money to spend. I say you cant afford not to. Oftentimes, when I attend a seminar or workshop, I hear a lot of information that Im already familiar with, but I still attend with the belief that I will gain something some new idea for a story or possibly an old idea with a new twist, a new perspective. And, I can honestly say, I always come away with something learned. It may even be some interactive technique to embrace or avoid when I am telling. I have read that when the senior Bill Marriott of Marriott Hotel fame attended programs he would have a pen in each hand. With his right hand he would take notes. And with his left hand he would write the ideas that were popping into his head because of some point that was being made by the speaker. He was always in the learning mode. I also suggest broadening your base by attending programs outside of your primary field of interest.
Become an audio tape fanatic. If I had to pick the single most compelling influence on my career path and learning, I would have to thank the hundreds and hundreds of tapes I have listened to in the car, while doing chores, and in preparation for a speaking engagement or other important activity. Yes, I have spent quite a bit of money on tapes, because I like to hear them over and over again, but libraries usually have a great selection on just about any self-improvement topic, how tos in practically every area imaginable, and informational on trends, politics, finances you name it. Just like the articles fill the time when I am waiting, the tapes fill driving time, especially if the traffic is heavy, or I have a long trip to take. And I do suggest listening to a tape more than once, because you will be amazed at the amount of information that you will miss during the first, second, and even third listening. Listen to other tellers on tapes, but dont try to mimic them. Focus on what you can learn from them.
Sign up to take a class. Every community and school system offer some sort of continuing education in the evenings and/or on weekends. These can be well worth the small amount they usually cost, both from a stimulating and networking aspect. I had a wonderful time taking a class in drumming, and now use what I learned while I am telling. I have also discovered on-line classes in just about any topic you can imagine. I have been taking many technology classes for the past two years, and especially enjoy the interaction with students from all over the world who are at different skill levels. I recently took a fiction writing course, which was a welcome change from the intensity of computer classes, and finished a story that I had been playing around with for ages. At http://www.worldwidelearn.com you will find a directory of on-line courses in almost any subject you can think of.
Write down daily what you have learned. I remember hearing the late Leo Buscaglia say that every night at dinner his father would ask all of the children in the family to tell about what they had learned that day. If we know we are planning to write down something weve learned, we will make sure that we are learning daily. What have you learned today?
Remember that learning is not only good for you, it is also FUN! And it will definitely enhance and enrich your life and your storytelling.
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