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Constant Learning equals Constant Improvement

by Steve Scott | Join Him On Facebook

I’ve met far too many people who have the misconception that education is something that ends when you receive your diploma or degree. I beg to differ because that’s just not the case—you don’t have to be enrolled in school or a formal training program in order to learn.

Since beginning my own internet business I’ve realized first-hand that self-education is necessary for success. Even though I’m no longer in school, I need to continually learn about new concepts and new methods that are available—methods that can help my business. If I fall behind the times, my company will suffer and my income will suffer. If you don’t take the time to ask questions about things and learn how and why they work, you’ll grow stagnant.

Make Learning Mandatory

Several months ago, I wrote a piece about the Japanese belief known as the Kaizan principle and a man named W. Edwards Deming.

Kaizan, the Japanese word for improvement, is a philosophy which deals with continuous improvement. The Japanese apply Kaizan to early all aspects of their lives; they embrace the philosophy and focus on making things better. W. Edwards Deming was an American best known for his work with Japanese auto makers. He taught them how to improve designs, quality and testing, and therefore their sales. He is considered a hero in Japan.

One of the best quotes I have read recently came out of the mouth of W. Edwards Deming: “Learning is not compulsory, but neither is survival.”

In short, if you do not strive to improve or refuse to help yourself go “above and beyond” by learning new things, you’ll wind up stuck in a place that you probably won’t enjoy. If you make learning mandatory and force yourself to learn, you’ll be able to grow and prosper with the best of ‘em.

How Do You Learn?

I find that reading is one of the easiest ways to learn and improve. At any given time, I can walk into a bookstore or hit up Amazon and find at least a dozen books that would help me out. Books aren’t the only thing to read; the internet is chock-full of valuable resources. There are free e-books and tons of prestigious colleges and universities are even offering free classes online with the use of opencourseware. Seriously, you can learn from Ivy League professors at home in your pajamas.

Once you realize that information is readily available, it’s up to you to take the initiative. Set aside an hour or two each week to “study,” or if you don’t mind “real school” there’s nothing to say you can’t sign up for a local class in order to improve yourself.

What do you do to learn and improve? Share your thoughts and ideas with me below!

Take Action. Get Results.



{ 28 comments }

Noel

I always strive to learn something new every day, no matter how trivial it may be at first. I love learning and discovering new things. And you’re right: if you try to start an internet business on your own (hell, any sort of business, really), you’ll find that it’s absolutely necessary to learn new things every day. Especially if you want to be serious in your success. I know that I’ve still got a lot to learn, and relish taking it all in!

Steve Scott

IF you put a lot on your plate it may feel hard for some people to find time to “learn new things” but learning a wide variety of things never hurt. It is hard to connect the dots for things that you will want to know in the future. But it is easy to look back and see how many of the little things you learned in the past may have helped you to achieve some sucess.

lawmacs

I am with you steve even now i am a blogging and been in the forties i am currently doing an online journalism course to help with my writing skills brilliantly written article steve.

Steve Scott

Every little thing helps. I have actually been thinking about taking a couple of writing classes to when I get back to the states. That type of learning toward a specific goal is particularly great.

Dia

Hi Scott,

We should always educate ourselves and improve ourselves, otherwise we wouldn’t grow and prosper. This should be a daily task. Thanks for sharing

Steve Scott

A little bit of knowledge every day is all the people can really hope for. If you learn one really new thing every day, soon enough, you will have an immense expanse of knowledge.

Thanks for the comment Dia

Aswani

Excellent post…I came to know about your blog from lawmacs blog. And I really enjoyed it. very useful and informative. Keep it up..

Steve Scott

Aswani,

Glad you liked it! Thanks for dropping by and hope to see you again. 🙂

Alien Ghost

Hi Steve,

The learning process seems to be forgotten by many at the end of High School, when a big party is thrown and the search for a job starts, at least in the case of many youngsters, then struggles are a common thing throughout the following years, especially when it comes to get a better position in life.

The worst part I believe is that, if we don’t keep learning new things, we tend to loose the learning “agility” and then it is more difficult to “restart” the process.

Raul

Steve Scott

Raul, Very true. I like that phrase too, I think it describes it very well, “learning agility”. When it comes to learning it is all about an object in motion staying in motion…

Percival J. Meris

I was once a teacher, and one of the important lessons we teach our students is learning how to learn. The entire duration of the course of learning, as well as the classroom, are both limited in scope and extent. A student cannot possibly learn all the things he needs to learn in a limited period of time and extent of space. Also, whatever is relevant that is learned during that time may soon be forgotten or rendered obsolete in due time.

To maximize the limited time spent by the student in school, the best thing to do is to make them learn how to learn. Give him fish, and your feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. So goes the old Chinese proverb.

Steve Scott

Percival,

Great comment! You are spot on with the idea that formal education only takes you so far. The process of learning is the really important thing. Love the proverb too. Thanks,

Steve

Julius

I couldn’t agree more with you. Learning is essential when it comes to succeeding in life. I am constantly trying to learn more things, to improve. I read around one book a week, maybe more. I simply love to learn more. Great post.

Steve Scott

Thanks Julius

From cradle to grave it is all one big learning curve to try to keep ahead of. That type of drive for learning has to come from only one place: within.

Thanks for you comments, I appreciate your stopping by.

lesley

I think that the the pace of change is now so great that constant learning is essential and the real skill we need to learn is how to assimilate information quickly.
I agree that books are key, online courses can also be useful – our Open University in the UK allows anyone to learn, no matter what their educational level.
I love the internet for the access it gives me to information and I always thought that one reason I wouldn’t like to do what you’ve done Steve, is that it would take me away from my very large collection of books. Now I have my Kindle it’s not so much a problem. I want to learn about something, I browse amazon, download and in less than 5 minutes I have information in my hand.

Thanks for an interesting post.

Steve Scott

Lesley,

You are right, the kindle is a godsend. Between reading on a Kindle, downloading “self help” type books I listen to while running, and some browsing at WiFi hotspots I am able to keep up fairly well. I will admit that it is not as easy as it was back at home but it is not that much more difficult.

Things like your “Open University” are awesome. There are many low cost and no cost ways to gain information these days it truly is the “bright side” of the internet.

Aaron

“the misconception that education is something that ends when you receive your diploma or degree”
I couldn’t agree more. I’m in an industry that recognizes two types of credentials- a certification, or college degree, not necessarily in a related field PLUS a certification.
Some of those with degrees may not like being required to have a certification. But with science proving so many theories every year, how can someone that earned a degree as recently as two years ago possibly be up to date without constantly learning.
Being self employed I am constantly reading on and offline not just about my field, but also marketing, and other aspects to improve my service and business.

Steve Scott

Aaron, any business dealing with technology specifically has such a fast turnover of information these days that almost as soon as you finish the training it is out of date.

You are absolutely correct that these fields have an even higher degree of importance to have a continuing education to be successful.

Thank you very much for stopping by and leaving such a good comment.

marlon @ productivity bits

“Continuous Learning” doesn’t exactly mean “Formal Education”. It could be a particular technology that you want to learn, and you set aside a time each day for that. Continuous learning means you are on a constant pursuit of something that you consider valuable to your growth as an individual by constantly engaging yourself in a learning process – reading, practice, doing, etc.

Steve Scott

Exactly. I think Continuous learning almost exclusively means outside of “formal education” The continuous makes you think you are also “doing” rather than simply learning. (though “formal” training certainly could be fit in too)

School will teach you a way to think and learn. Actually doing it is something each person needs to find on their own. Continuous learning could be as simple as reading papers and keeping up to date on trade journals and blogs to as complicated as taking formal classes and running tests and practices on your own.

What you do is up to your personal wants and needs, it is just important that you do Something.

lesley

Steve, I’d go so far as to say that school can discourage independent learning because people think the learning process has an end and used to being ‘fed’ their information.
I took both my children out of school and they travel with me, They study hard and have become truly independent learners as a result. They’ve also learned a great deal from the places we have visited. People ask me if I feel bad about having taken them out of school but actually it’s the opposite, I think that they’ve got a head start on their contemporaries as a result; they know that learning is something they can do themselves and that it is a constant process.

Steve Scott

Depending on the school I think you may be right. I think there are some that truly try to teach “how to learn” and some that teach “rote” learning.

It does no good to “learn the test” to simply advance to the next grade. I know a few people that have been “Home schooled” and they always seen pretty bright and intelligent.

They only issue I have with home schooling is “social” training children do not receive. Things like dealing with bullies is something no mother would want her children to go through, but it does teach powerful life lessons and how to deal with adversity in social situations.

Ben

I’m with you Steve. Learning is crucial to success and improvement.

I read (a lot) and watch a lot of video content online. There is some truly stunning (free) learning material out there right at you finger tips. Steve, your site is a great example of that

Steve Scott

Thanks for the kind words Ben. 🙂

I guess I must be an inner cheapskate, I find “free” material that I learn from to be more enjoyable than stuff I pay for.

At least one part of that makes sense, if it is free and I get nothing out of it, i stop and move on….if I pay I continue to try to push through it, even though it may not be the greatest information.

Jaden Taylor

You are so correct. Is there really anyone out there that can truly say that they know everything they need or want to know? Doubtful. The reasons to continue learning throughout our lives are endless. Who hasn’t ever said or though this- “if I knew then, what I know now”? Well, why not learn now the things that will benefit you and your choices now? I totally agree with Ben’s comment about there being so much truly stunning and free learning materials at our fingertips. Another perfect example can be found at dontgetburnedblog.com. I highly recommend reading. Thanks and keep up the great work.

Steve Scott

A long time ago I heard that a wise man only knows how much there is to learn. Particularly in this age of “specialization” it is impossible to learn everything so all you can do is try to keep learning “something” and growing.

Thanks a lot for stopping by Jaden and for leaving a great comment!!

Patricia@lavenderuses

Hi Steve

You put this up on Twitter so assuming I can still comment. I learn heaps from visiting blogs like this Steve. Also visiting other blogs that cover topics that will improve my blogging skills.

Like you I love reading books; although with working on establishing my small niche blog I don’t get too much time for books at the moment. Wathcing documentaries also teaches me about things I may find helpful and interesting, depending on the topic. Thanks for another thought provoking post.

Patricia Perth Australia

Steve Scott

Lol,

Feel free to comment on any one you want ;). That’s what they are there for. There seems like there is never enough time to read…I definitely understand that. Honsestly I am glad for the kindle and audiobooks, or I likely wouldn’t get nearly as much “reading” done as I, which often seems like a heck of a lot less than I used to/want

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