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The Learning Game And How To Win It

By Bob McElwain
Posted Friday, July 18, 2003

To many, learning is a dirty word. A chore to be avoided at all cost. However, it's required to succeed in business. But maybe not the kind of learning you think of when you use this term.

What "Learning" Means In Schools

Many did not enjoy their school days for they did not enjoy the learning task. And some were not good at it. Others found it difficult.

If you did not enjoy learning, but can manage, there is only one reasonable approach. Grit your teeth and get it done.

You may discover that outside the school room, the learning task is much easier. One factor that really makes a difference is that you now have a purpose.

For example, if you are working to improve your selling skills, you recognize they can make or break your business. Thus there is a solid reason for taking the time to make all possible progress. Given purpose, the task is much easier.

How To Manage If Learning Is Hard For You

Lots of people find learning difficult. If you are one of them, do not be overly concerned. You can still get it done. You only need to look at the task differently than you did in school.

Schools are run pretty much like an assembly line. Every student is expected to learn a given quantity of information or to achieve a specific skills level in the same amount of time. Given the differences in people, this is pretty silly when you think about it.

Time Makes The Difference

Learning what is needed to create a successful business is another matter entirely. And it does not require grand intellectual powers. Common sense will do nicely.

What is required is patience. Patience with yourself. And persistence; you need to keep at it, even when things are not going well.

During your school days, time was a key factor. Now it is not. There is no reason at all for achieving a given goal within a fixed period of time. Whatever you are about, you have time. In fact, you have the rest of your life.

How To Learn Effectively

You are not going to be able to read a book, then go forth and execute the ideas you read in grand or even appropriate fashion. It takes time for an idea to sink in. To become part of your automatic thinking. And until it does, you simply haven't got it.

The key to all this is to read in a given area, make a few notes, lay the work aside, then turn to a different task. Review your notes now and then, however briefly, adding whatever comes to mind.

When you return for another look at what you are studying, you will discover your mind has been working without you realizing it. That you suddenly know more about the topic than you had thought. Which means you are closer to mastery.

This cycling from task to task, was not an approach available during your school days. But you are in total charge now, beyond the dictates of teachers or curriculums. You decide how much is enough for now. And when you do, you decide what is to be done next.

Given patience and persistence, many come to enjoy this mode, and thus come to enjoy learning. Surprisingly this happens to many. But whether or not you come to enjoy it, it will continually become a less painful chore.

You'll Know When You Get It

To have learned something means it has become internalized. It has become a full fledged member of your bag of tricks. This happens only when you find yourself saying, "Hey, I want to try this," you do so, and find it works. Then you've got it. Until this happens, you don't.

There's No End In Sight

None of us can afford to be content with what we now know of the Web or doing business on it. Which means there is no end to learning. It is a lifelong task, to be pursued on a regular basis.

New ideas peek up over the horizon every day. So we need to consider everything related to marketing we can find. Particularly in any area related to the one in which we are working.

Anybody Can Do It!

As you may know, I taught mathematics and computer science in secondary schools and colleges in Los Angeles, California, for a lot of years. From this experience, one conviction stands above all others.

Talent and native ability wither away to nothingness in those without a work ethic that includes the patience and persistence to follow the path wherever it may lead. To put this another way, workaholics tend to achieve their goals regardless of talent or native ability.

If you are willing to improve your skills, willing to persist and be patient with yourself, there is no limit to where you can take your business. Or yourself!


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