Key to Success: Lifelong Learning

Knowledge is king. You went through formal schooling at some point; you graduated from high school, probably college, maybe a graduate program.  Then the learning was over right? Not exactly.

The formal learning part of your life has passed; now the informal part begins. It’s part of your lifelong learning. In business, lifelong learning is now critical. Not only to benefit yourself but your entire team.  You gain knowledge, pass it on to others and watch it become instrumental to improving results in your business and keeping your company healthy and growing.

Its absence can have an even greater impact. Back in the late 1980s, we were working with three brothers who owned a manufacturing business started by their great-grandfather. Business was steady and they decided to branch out and get involved in real estate in the Southwest.

Fast forward ten months: one of their major customers is looking for a bid on one of their main products. The brothers bid came in quite a bit off market. Two of their primary competitors offered substantially lower bids. How? A brand new manufacturing process had been introduced. The technology significantly reduced the cost of producing this and other key products.

Eager to buy and implement this new technology, the brothers went to their bank to borrow money. The bank decided not to extend the money. The reason? Everything changed when they lost that key customer. And it snowballed from there. They eventually found themselves going into bankruptcy and ultimately selling the business for pennies on the dollar.

All from taking their eyes off the ball. They assumed the status quo and didn’t bother to keep up. They stopped working on their business. And there business stopped working for them. Now that’s the kind of learning no one wants to experience.

A sad story, but let’s move forward to today. How do you do lifelong learning for you and your staff? Maybe you’re like us and you’re involved heavily in what I’ve referred to in earlier blogs as heuristic work. That’s the creative, right brain work. In that area things don’t go in any particular order.

Historically many companies focused on formal training programs, going through these long processes. That may have worked for manufacturing or other process-driven businesses. Today, not so much and certainly not in the rapidly growing and shifting service industries. Besides, fewer and fewer companies have the time or money.

What the brain scientists are telling us is that it’s better in heuristic, right-brained businesses to just throw your people into the pool. Kind of like throwing a baby into the pool; she starts kicking right away.

You want to throw these new hires into the pool right away, fire hose them, give them as much as they can handle. They’ll learn a lot faster on the job. Failures take place and lessons are learned. Of course, you have to have a system to avoid chaos in your business. One system I have talked and written about before involves mentoring. It can be a powerful tool to successfully getting people learning and coming up to speed very quickly.

As important as good systems are, leadership – your leadership – is critical. Lifelong learning comes from the top. Leadership by example is always very important. If leadership is not embracing lifelong learning, then it’s not going to take place anywhere else in your company.

Lifelong learning is something that will keep the business always moving in the right direction, taking on new technology and new ideas. Learn from other industries. Learn from rivals. Learn from inside and outside. Let learning help you work on your business continually and with the future always in mind.

At Coyle Financial, we embrace learning on a regular basis. We find that one of our best methods for learning is teaching. That is why we offer this blog as well as seminars and webinars. I encourage you to look into one of our seminars about taking charge of your wealth. Go to our website at www.coylefinancial.com, find some upcoming dates and sign up to keep your personal lifelong learning fresh.

Feel free to contact us or watch our latest webinar about simplifying and gaining clarity of your overall wealth picture. The more you learn, the easier it becomes. Take that step to a lifetime of learning.

And until next time, enjoy.

Send me your response, query or comment to gklaben@coylefinancial.com.