Excellence is a better teacher than mediocrity. The lessons of the ordinary are everywhere. Truly profound and original insights are to be found only in studying the exemplary. Taking charge of your own learning is a part of taking charge of your life. - Warren G. Bennis
When you think you've quit learning and that you can't grow, then you might as well give it up. Personal development and growth is a constant requirement in our business and just in life!
Even returning to tried-and-true materials can teach us something new. If the resource is grounded in excellence, rather than mediocrity, it will still hold value for you. There is innovation and inspiration to be uncovered in new programs, as well as in old standbys with proven track records.
For example, a few years ago I was looking for an easy book to read during a really busy time in my business. I wanted something I could get through quickly, write up a review on it that was useful for you, and move along to my next project. I picked up Who Moved My Cheese because I'd read it years ago, figured I knew it pretty well, that I could skim it to refresh my memory, and that the information might be really helpful for you if you'd never read it.
Imagine my surprise, when I picked up the book and realized that I didn't remember much of the story at all! My recollection had been that there were four mice, but there were really two mice and two little people! That just goes to show you that I'd forgotten a lot.
Of course, the actual number of mice was a relatively minor detail. What was more notable was that as I read the book I gleaned fabulous new insights. These were lessons that it's possible I'd "learned" those many years ago, but that were as fresh and compelling as if I'd never even read the book before!
I found myself driving down the road thinking, "Which mouse am I? Which character am I? I think I'm more like this than like that. I think I do this. In some situations I react like this, while at other times I react more like this…"
What I found so interesting was how thought-provoking it was, considering that it had been a book I hadn't planned to put much thought into and that I'd already read. It's confirmation that we can continually learn and that we can learn different things at different times from the same materials because we're in different places.
Excellence stands up to the test of time, but the things you learn are only useful if you employ them, reinforce them, and at least remember them! Sometimes that means revisiting, because the lessons do us no good if we read them, reflect for a moment, and then forget about them. Just the act of seeking out more information and learning opportunities stir us up and causes us to make connections in our mind between different philosophies and techniques, and that, too, helps cement previous lessons.
It reminds me of a woman I spoke with at one of my seminars. She told me that she had come to the same seminar five or six times. When I asked her why, she told me that it still helps her. She hears the same thing and thinks, "Yeah, I've heard that before." But, what's interesting, she said, is that often she also thinks, "What…I used to do that. I quit doing that. It worked for me. Why did I stop doing that?" That thought process and hearing the same information again keeps her returning to what works and adjusting the things that don't.
That happens to everyone. We've all had so many great ideas thrown at us. We've learned tons of techniques, probably more than we can ever use all at the same time. But how many do we actually retain? How many do we still use? There certainly is no shortage of ideas and things we already know, that we just don't do, that would really improve our businesses and our lives.
If you're anything like me, you discover a new approach. You learn it. You master it. It works great! And then…you get bored with it and just stop doing it. We all do that. We get lazy. We will be doing great with a technique and it will be boosting our bookings, increasing attendance, or pumping up our sales, and then we'll just stop. Then down the road, we run across it again and remember that it WORKED! And, you know what? It can still work. It's not that the technique wasn't solid; it's just that you quit using it.
Why not revisit some old habits that work? Take a look at what's been great for you in the past, but that, for some reason, you're just not using it now. Go back and re-read that book that lit a fire under you so long ago. Or listen to that CD that spurred you into action and led to even a small change in your life. If it had power and value then, it likely will again.
A "reunion" with messages, tools, and habits that have served you well in the past could leave you renewed and ready to take on new challenges. It could be a real eye-opener! And, perhaps, the tools of yesterday will be the beginning of a new personal growth path for you today.
It is very dangerous to go into eternity with possibilities which one has oneself prevented from becoming realities. A possibility is a hint from God. One must follow it. - Sören Kierkegaard