Are You Improving at Work?

“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
Charlie Tremendous Jones

The above quote is one of my all-time favorites.  To me, it is the perfect advice on how to manage your career.  It suggests that you should always be learning while also consistently meeting new people.

Unfortunately, many folks become complacent with work and life.  They mostly do the same things and interact with the same people.

The first part of the quote focuses on people.  A regular theme of this blog is the importance of networking and developing good relationships.  Doing so makes the workplace more interesting and can also be a great way to find new opportunities, while also limiting or avoiding long periods of unemployment.

The second part of the quote deals with learning, specifically reading.  Whether you help provide a good or service to others, you should always be working to improve and perfect your craft.  I recently read an article that cited a study that 42% of college graduates never read another book.  It also said that 80% of all families didn’t buy or read a book last year.  Thanks to technology, it has never been easier to access materials.  You can buy, check-out, download or listen to a book at the click of a button.  I strongly encourage you to become a lifelong learner and make reading a part of the equation.

Top companies and organizations are always striving to get better.  If you’re not improving, it will jeopardize your situation at some point.  I have met people who were let go from their organizations, sometimes just several years away from their projected retirement date.  Some of these folks mistakenly thought they had earned the right to “coast” the last few years only to find their employers didn’t share those same sentiments.  Many employees become endangered when they don’t willingly learn and embrace new skills and/or do not take an active interest in new managers and employees hired at their firm.

Last year, I visited a company we were working with to learn more about their culture so we could help them find the right employee.  As I met their current team, I soon realized that most of the department had been in place about four years or less.  The exception was a gentleman who had been with the company for over twenty years.  I learned by talking with him that his career with the company had changed several times during his tenure.  What I found most fascinating was that he personally had invested the time and resources to learn the new skills each time that his firm needed.  Instead of hoping the company would train him for a new desired position, he proactively sought out ways to attain the necessary skills on his own that they were looking for.  By doing so, he continued to stay happily employed and appreciated by his company, too.

Ultimately it is your responsibility to manage your career.

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