Weaving a net is better than praying for fish.
ANCIENT CHINESE PROVERB
Learning will improve your career and your self-esteem. Putting your learning into practice will be a tribute to your courage, ingenuity, and determination and will enhance the possibility of career advancement. Do these things to keep ahead:
Learn from successful people. Seek out these people and ask them to share their life secrets.
If successful people are not readily available, write down a list of people you admire. Go to the library and see if there are biographies and autobiographies on these people. Read them and see if you can glean the essence of their success. Make a list of these "nuggets" and prioritize them. Then take them one at a time and start to use them.
Identify people in your organization whose careers seem to be taking off. Observe them whenever possible. Try to sit in on their meetings. Volunteer to be on their task forces. Ask them for advice on how to improve your career.
Learn from mistakes. If you are human, you'll make many. And that's okay, so long as you don't keep repeating them. Think about what you did wrong and what you can do differently the next time, given the opportunity. When next in the same situation, do everything possible to try a new strategy. If it works, give yourself a pat on the back. If not, try Plan C next time.
Subscribe to trade journals. Find one idea you can use in each issue. Circulate the idea to show people that you are researching value-added ideas.
Take courses whenever they are offered, even if you've been on a similar course before. You'll always learn something new from a different instructor or from different approaches.
Access any funds available for training. Many organizations pay for programs outside work that can influence your performance.
Become a self-directed learner. Take responsibility to get information yourself. If you have a learning centre in your organization, visit it frequently. Find out what's new. Take advantage of Computer Based Training (CBT) during quiet times.
At the end of each workshop, summarize what you have learned and, more important, what you intend to do. Put theory into practice within a week. After that time, your memory and enthusiasm will fade fast as you get back into your old groove.
Avoid going to courses that run three to five days. There is too much to learn and too little time to put everything into practice. One- and two-day courses are better. They tend to be more focused and practical.
Avoid going to courses back to back. Spread your attendance over a period. This will give you time to digest the information and put ideas into practice, and then an opportunity to learn some more.
Focus on skills that will enable you to do things that the organization considers its highest priority. This will keep you in the limelight.
Buy books and borrow books. Don't read them cover to cover. Pick key chapters and skim them to get kernels of ideas. Read the summaries first to discover if the chapters are of interest.
Save time. Get summaries of books and tapes to listen to while travelling to and from work.
Speak to friends who have been to interesting workshops. Ask them for summaries. Borrow their workbooks, with references to key sections.
Go to conferences whenever possible. Seek out competitors. Buy them drinks at the end of the day and pump them for useful information about unique things they are doing.