There’s a great story about Franklin D. Roosevelt visiting Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes on his 92nd birthday. The great jurist was in failing health, and, so the story goes, was reading a Greek language grammar when the President arrived. When Roosevelt asked why the aging Holmes was putting forth the effort to learn Greek, he reportedly answered, “to improve my mind, Mr. President.”

Great leaders are lifelong learners. If you hope to have more than a moment at the peak of your career, you must commit yourself to continually improving your mind.

Though college or graduate school may be a distant memory, there are plenty of ways you can stay ahead of the learning curve. Here are five ways to stay ahead of the knowledge curve in your field:

  1. Read a Book

Reading is perhaps the best and most accessible way to keep current in your own field and in general knowledge. Aim to read a book per week, and remember that you don’t have to take four to six hours to read every word of a book. It’s okay to skim a book to identify key concepts. The point is to get the information from the author’s brain into your own.

  1. Subscribe to Podcasts

If you’re like me, you spend plenty of time behind the wheel or sitting at an airport. These are ideal times to learn by listening. Podcasts abound on every subject imaginable. I especially enjoy Ted talks! Use your smart phone to get smarter.

  1. Hang Around Smart People

By that I mean interact intentionally with other leaders, high achievers, and experts in your field. Ask questions. Listen. Observe. Many leaders will share a lifetime of professional knowledge with you if you are present and observant.

  1. Attend Conferences

Attending conferences in your field is not a luxury; it’s a necessity. This is where you will learn the latest thinking and advancements in your field, rub shoulders with other leaders, and be exposed to new ideas.

  1. Take a Course

Sometimes the easiest way to learn is to enroll in a class. This is especially true of any area that involves practical learning, such as a language, a computer program, or any “how to” subject. Pay the fee, listen to the experts, ask questions, and do the assignments.

What are your current continuing education goals? What’s the next content area you hope to master? Set a goal, then do it!

I’d love to hear about the best book you’ve read lately. Share your answer on Facebook or Twitter.

StanAToler


 

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