There is almost always something good to be said about the person who worked his or her way up. Starting from nothing and learning a business and eventually becoming somewhat of an expert in their chosen field. Well, there is lots to respect. And as far as I am concerned there is only one person who is more worthy of respect for their knowledge than this person and that is the man or woman who never stops learning. The one who continues to learn.
We all learn in different ways. We all learn at different speeds. And some things that are easy for you to learn might be more difficult for me and vice versa. But times change and with is so do economies, markets and professions. But people don’t always grow. Many people learn by doing can find themselves slowing down their own learning process as they progressively get higher and higher up in their respectives companies. Sometimes all it takes for you to become irrelevant is one change of technology, one change in the legal system or some other facet of rapid evolution. For this reason anyone who cares about the long-term perspective of their career should be constantly learning about the changes in their field as well as any changes that will affect the way they do their jobs.
When I was quite young I remember fishing with a friend of the family. His name was Bob Johnson. I remember this man who lived in the Caney bottoms near a place called Cale, Arkansas, asking me if I knew how many ways there were to gut fish. I knew of two basically: one for fish with scales and the other for fish with skin. He told me that there must be a dozen ways, some better than others of course, but still at least a dozen ways to gut fish. Since we had several fish there he showed me a few different ways of going about it. I didn’t mind much because that meant I got to watch a bit more than do and gutting fish wasn’t something I was wild about. After we had finished all the fish Bob said to me “Boy, don’t ever stop learning something new in your life, even if you think you might not ever use it again. It will still be there in the back of your mind. Even if you are only learning how to prune roses, take to it. Learn it well.”
I don’t think I have really ever had much better advice than that in my life.
Find out what you need to know and what you don’t know. Find out things that you didn’t know were interesting to you before. Watch others work and do. Ask questions. Read books. Read trade publications. Find videos and audio files to watch and listen to. Then do it again. Learn and keep learning.
If you learn as you go along you will build on the wealth of knowledge that you already possess. You will constantly upgrade your background. You will be truly worth the money that you earn. And you will be known for being a sharp cookie. You will be known as such by your colleagues, your customers and other people associated with your business. And I can’t think of many things better to be said if someone is giving one of your prospective clients a reference should they be able to truthfully say, “Now here is a person who knows all about the business – there is not much under the sun that he / she doesn’t know.”