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Professional Success: Avoid Becoming A Dinosaur By Marcia Zidle

Jack Nichlaus was asked if there are really talented golfers who never make it. ďOh, hundreds of themĒ, he replied. ďA lot of people out there are more talented than I am and yet, through the years, Iíve passed them by...Thatís because they did not have the drive to keep on learning...In other words, they didnít try to get better.Ē

Being good at what you do, like so many of the factors that make for high achievement in golf and other endeavors, has to be worked at and developed and polished on a continual basis. Forget about finally finishing your education. Being successful means getting better today and throughout your life.

Nichlaus continued: ďI think the big thing about doing anything is striving to improve everyday. Iím learning new shots every day. ď

Which new shots or skills do you need to learn? Which ones are you trying to improve? Are you keeping up with the hot areas in your technical field? Do you have the skills to remain, not only employable, but also to thrive in your career? If you ---your skills and competencies---donít grow, improve, and evolve you too, as in nature, will face extinction. You will become a professional dinosaur.

Itís up to you to make sure you are continually improving, growing, and getting better. Itís up to you to make sure you never go out of style! Itís up to you to practice life long learning. Therefore,

Have a learning perspective.
Be on the lookout for teachable moments. Approach each learning experience, whether you want to be there or not, with the questions: What can I learn? What one or two things can I take away that I can use immediately? Who else would find value in this learning?

Benchmark your skills periodically.
. Do it at least once a year. And, for those in a fast moving profession or industry every three months may be required. In other words, whatís in your work portfolio? Is it filled with skills or competencies that are up-to-date and sought after? Or, is it filled with skills which are obsolete and, therefore, not very portable?

Create a learning plan.
Produce a plan that covers what you want to learn, how you are going to learn it, and when. Set monthly, quarterly, or annually learning goals. And be sure to write them down. Good intentions are soon forgotten. And put your plan where you can see it (perhaps your day planner) to be reminded of important actions you need to take.

Stay competitive.
Pinpoint specific skills and knowledge that you need to acquire or up-grade. Then identify the professional development activities that are available to you. They can include mentor relationships, special assignments at work, in-house and public seminars, professional conferences, the internet and on-line, university education, books, journals, audio-tapes, etc.

Have a burning desire to improve and grow.
Just as a company invests in its own research and development, you need to invest in your own growth and development. Remember, as you never outgrow your need for milk, you never outgrow your need for learning.

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