Get Smarter

Being objective about one’s own work quality is difficult. When our individual competence is certified via good grades in school, we realize that we may indeed have some talent. When we receive approvals from bosses, clients and colleagues, we become aware that we have marketable skills.

As we gain some measure of success, we may over or underestimate our own personal abilities. Some might say that if you can continue to get hired and paid, you are doing okay. But in today’s business world, coasting is dangerous. Improving one’s skills and knowledge base is vital. Even within our busy lives, it can be done. Here are a few ideas how:

  1. Read. The volume of information available today is enormous and will continue to grow. You can find info galore about your chosen work category online and in books and magazines. Devote some of your recreational reading time to work-related personal growth. When you find online content that is enlightening, bookmark it for rereading later. When you discover a book or magazine article that provides useful info, keep it nearby for future consultation. Keep a highlighter on hand for marking significant passages.
  2. Attend events. Several organizations have monthly events that include presentations by people who have useful knowledge to share. Most groups welcome non-members. If you can come away with two or three actionable items from one of these gatherings, your time is well spent. Most of these events feature a period set aside for networking, which can allow you to meet other talented individuals.
  3. Talk to people. Conversations over coffee, breakfast, lunch, wine, etc. are good places to share ideas and techniques with folks whose work is similar to yours. Meeting with a competitor can result in guidance for dealing with specific issues and tips that can help you work better. You don’t want to share proprietary information or prospects lists, but talking about your respective accomplishments can generate fresh ideas. Remember to listen more than you speak.
  4. Go back to school. If pursuing a graduate degree is not possible, consider taking just one course at a community college or university. Classes offered in 2012 are more relevant to the business environment than those taught in prior decades. Grab a catalog and find something that you would like to add to your arsenal of knowledge.
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