A number of years ago, an employee – and friend – lamented, “I hate the fact that I don’t have a degree. Every day, I regret not getting one. I think it’s has hurt my career.” To me, the lack of degree didn’t matter. In fact, he was the most productive salesperson on our team. I didn’t care that he didn’t have a four year college degree. I cared about his continuing education.
Continual education is critical to success. Don’t be lulled into the false reality that just because you have a four year degree, or your MBA, that you somehow have all the necessary education you will ever need. Equally, if you don’t have a college degree, don’t see that as a hindrance to your career. Successful business people are always looking for opportunities to learn and then apply that learning in a way that it will add value to others, advance their careers and grow their business results.
Employers often put too much emphasis on degrees and not enough emphasis on continuous improvement. Steller results are not achieved by people who have sworn off learning. In fact, I would argue that the only way to significant success is with continuous self-improvement. That means lifelong learning. On a team, this lifelong learning by leaders can be contagious. Not only are they adding value to themselves, they are adding value to others. Their actions are inspiring those around them to go out and seek opportunities for self-improvement.
Learning Can Advance Your Career
Learning can also lead to career advancement. The more you learn, the more you earn. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to run out and get your Doctorate, MBA or Bachelors to grow in your careers. It means that you need to keep learning. For instance, if you are a salesperson, attending a simple sales seminar by someone like Brian Tracy may give you enough ammunition to add to your sales arsenal to increase your results two-fold. What you know is not as important as what you DO with what you know. When you are the very best at what you do, companies recognize that, and in turn, reward you through promotions, bonuses and higher salaries.
Business owners can benefit from continuing education as well. For instance, learn everything you can about your product, your competitors and your customers. Then determine what drives each, and apply that learning to your business model. By doing so, you’ll see an increase in both productivity and sales results.
Finally, continuing education doesn’t have to be some sophisticated degree or certification program at the local university. Reading trade magazines, blogs, self-help books, etc., are different ways that you can increase your learning. In fact, a library card can open you up to a world of knowledge.
My friend never went back to get his Bachelor’s degree. He continued to grow as one of the top salespeople on our team, and later moved on to a new company where he has realized even greater success. He embraced the idea of continuous education, and as a result has experienced continuous success.
Continuing education can be the difference maker in your career, business, and life. Learn to earn.