1) Reading. I know. I probably talk about reading too much. I seriously can’t get over it though. My lack of progress on my reading list has been due to the fact that I essentially made one of the books mandatory by offering to give a presentation on Six Sigma at work. Well, last Thursday, June 2nd, I finally gave the presentation and I can offically say I am past that obstacle (which you might have guessed from my Six Sigma summary post). The reason I bring it up: I learned a ton by reading the book and then presenting on the topic. I knew absolutely nothing about Six Sigma prior to reading and now I could easily hold a half-way educated conversation about Six Sigma methodology with a black belt.
Books are easily the most accessible way to learn in this day and age. The only thing you need is a library card and some motivation. (BTW when is someone going to figure out how to make the whole digital book library thing happen?) Or, you could save up for a couple paychecks, buy a Kindle, Nook, or other e-reader and download the classics for anywhere from free 99 to 9.99.
If you haven’t picked up a book lately, I beg you to do so. I know – you might hate reading… And I bet that’s because your high school teacher forced three mandatory books down your throat every summer for four years. Guess what: there’s no mandatory reading list in life. And there are more books to choose from than you could ever possibly look through. Give reading another chance and marvel in the feeling of accomplishment and self-worth it gives you to educate yourself at your own leisure. (Or join me in reading a book from my list .
2) Observing and listening to others. Who do you admire? Why? Have you ever observed their actions or carefully considered their words? Have you figured out just the method of asking questions that gets them going for long passages at a time, all the while allowing you to soak up the wisdom and advice that they have to offer.
Take a minute to observe a co-worker you admire tomorrow. How do they go about getting their work done? What methods do they use to win people over and generate consensus and alignment? Or, have lunch with a mentor next week. Ask questions about life and success and failure and lessons learned and having fun. And listen carefully… You never know what you might learn.