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Highly Effective And Successful People Are Still Learning

Life-long learning is the single best investment of our time

By fizkes/Shutterstock
By fizkes/Shutterstock

I believe knowledge is the new money. In the age of information overload, those who can sort the valuable from the worthless will ultimately win.

Paul Tudor Jones, self-made billionaire entrepreneur, investor, and philanthropist agrees. He once said, “Intellectual capital will always trump financial capital.”

Knowledge is becoming increasingly valuable and priceless — your skills, knowledge, and competency (past, present) are either helping you advance your career or hindering your progress in life.

At a fundamental level knowledge is gradually becoming its own important and unique form of currency — it often serves as a medium of exchange and store of value.

If you want to become a well-rounded person, get good at quickly learning from every experience, experts and knowing when to apply that knowledge.

An active literary life can make you effective, productive, and healthy. The most successful people we know today don’t stop learning about career and life growth. They continually expand their knowledge in order to get out in front of the pack and stay there.

“In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none. Zero,” says Charlie Munger, Self-made billionaire & Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner.

Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day, according to his brother. Bill Gates reads 50 books per year. Mark Zuckerbergreads at least one book every two weeks.

Warren Buffett spends five to six hours per day reading five newspapers and 500 pages of corporate reports. Buffett has invested 80% of his time in reading and thinking throughout his career.

According to an HBR article, “Nike founder Phil Knight so reveres his library that in it you have to take off your shoes and bow.”

Why do the world’s smartest and busiest people find time for deliberate learning while others make excuses about how busy they are?

What do they see that others don’t?

The answer is simple: Learning is the single best investment of our time. Or as Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

The point here is that successful people are outstanding performers. Outstanding performers are lifelong learners.

Everything is a learning process. Those who have mastered failure, setback, and perseverance succeed better.

The “ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated” pursuit of life, career and self-knowledge is important for personal maturity. Digging deeper to become your best self will separate you everyone else who isn’t trying.

Even if you don’t know exactly what you’ll need to learn, you can’t go wrong cultivating a growth mindset — a learning theory developed by Dr Carol Dweck that revolves around the belief that you can improve intelligence, ability and performance.

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn,” argues Alvin Toffler, a writer, futurist, and businessman known for his works discussing modern technologies.

He is right! The ability to keep an open-mind, acquire better knowledge and apply it when necessary can significantly improve your life and career.

Between deadlines, meetings, family life and everything else in between, there isn’t much time to get to know yourself or improve yourself. But you can change that. As long as you are ready to take responsibility for your career.

Broad, deep learning can make you a better person. “If you’re a business person who typically only reads business writing, commit to reading one book this year in three areas outside your comfort zone: a novel, a book of poetry, or a nonfiction piece in science, biography, history, or the arts,” writes John Coleman, coauthor of the book, Passion & Purpose: Stories from the Best and Brightest Young Business Leaders.

No matter where you are on the career ladder, it’s important to continue learning and develop new skills. It’s the only way to survive in the 21st century. Albert Einstein said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

To embrace life-long learning, I see my life work in progress. I mean, I’ve never arrived… I’m still learning all the time — about what works, paths to take, those to avoid, emotions to tame, when to speak up, relationships to nurture, what makes me come alive and how to be a better person.

Learning drives adaptability. We live in an ever-changing world which is unlikely to ever slow down. So, what mattered yesterday (e.g. skill, knowledge, social circle, etc.) very much so might not be worth a dime tomorrow.

The ability to change (or be changed) to fit new circumstances — is a crucial skill to career growth. Change used to be slow and incremental: now it is rapid, radical and unpredictable.

To succeed today, you must be in a constant state of adaptation — continually unlearning old ‘rules’ and relearning new ones.

Learning is an investment that usually pays for itself in increased earnings. More than ever, learning is for life if you want to stay relevant, indispensable and thrive in the changing world of work.

Originally published on Medium.

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