8 Strategies Assure You Will Never Stop Learning

8 Strategies Assure You Will Never Stop Learning

To stay relevant, reinvent and thrive in your career and life, you will benefit when you never stop learning.

That’s the premise of Never Stop Learning by Bradley R. Staats, accomplished businessman and North Carolina Keenan-Flagler Business School professor.

Staats’ premise also applies to your marketing and here’s how in his key eight elements:

  1. Valuing failure – do you have a willingness to fail to learn? Many business leaders and marketers become fixated on the latest marketing tool or technology and won’t go outside their comfort zone. Why? I find there are three reasons. First, they feel the cure is worse than the disease (pain.) They think “If we change, will I just mess up and produce nothing?” Second, frequently and unfortunately, they assert — “Well, we are doing what everyone else is doing.” Third, some folks are stuck in a different time when failing could jeopardize their job. All these signal that it’s time to change because you are imitating and following and usually not leading and innovating. And you certainly have shut down learning.
  2. Process rather than outcome – focusing on the outcome is misguided, because you won’t know how you got there. A process or systemic focus frees you up to learn. I work with clients on three distinct processes — ACE, STAR and Harmony. ACE evaluates and activates appropriate marketing and communications strategies for building brand awareness, credibility and energy. Harmony is a concise and powerful marketing strategy assessment tool that works through five simple steps from target audiences to your storytelling and marketing strategies organized by target. STAR is the new way of marketing and communications. It concentrates on evaluating and developing five areas– story, storytelling, conversation, listening and measures. All these processes guide practical and dynamic assessment and planning that will yield learnings most importantly and successful outcomes.
  3. Asking questions rather than rushing to answers — recognizing that “I don’t know” is a fair place to start if you quickly follow up with a question. When you ask questions, you demonstrate an openness to change and to learn and to see the dimensions of a problem. I love these questions – what’s working and how do you know it’s working or if it’s failing how do you know and how are you willing to adapt to resolve the issue?
  4. Reflection and relaxation – fight the urge to act for the sake of acting and recognize that when the going gets tough, the tough are rested, take time to recharge and stop to think. This is so valuable. The value of a ten-minute walk is severely underrated. The benefit of an hour walk, bike ride or jog is too. Psychologist Rollo May in his Courage to Create suggests that there is literally a Eureka or Aha moment that can occur when the conscious mind focuses on something else and the subconscious is still noodling an idea. You know how this goes. You are running, driving, gardening or showering and an idea just comes out of nowhere. Time outs can produce success in business, life and even your favorite hobby or sport. They’re not just for toddlers.
  5. Being yourself – don’t try to conform; be willing to stand out. This is a hard lesson for us within organizations rife with bureaucracy and conformity. New ideas come from new processes and nothing is more productive than being the one and only you. In marketing, maybe a conscious hybrid of traditional and new media strategies is the power boost you need. These strategies can be mutually inclusive and more potent than a simple digital effort.
  6. Playing to strengths – dynamic learners don’t try to fix irrelevant weaknesses; they play to their strengths. If you are an expert at marketing strategy, go for it. If you love to create the stories, develop them. If you want to dig into the metrics, have at it. Every initiative needs it strongest performing experts.
  7. Specialization and variety – dynamic learners build a T-shaped portfolio of experiences — deep in one area (or more) and broad in others. Expertise is necessary for learning success, but it can fall short. When people specialize, they can only see what they want to believe rather than what is there. Specialization is a way to learn but may limit comprehending how we understand new information. Learning benefits from diversity as well as specialization. Marketers must understand many tools today and will benefit by building knowledge in those areas beyond just specialization.
  8. Learning from others – recognize that learning is not a solo exercise. Everybody is your teacher is the Zen way. There are so many new tools technologies and strategies. Why not let someone else teach us in webinars, conference presentations, e-books and blog posts? Even better, let your team, prospects and clients teach you.

So how are you staying relevant, reinventing and thriving in your business, life and marketing?

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