Stephen Covey first encouraged us to “Sharpen the Saw” in his ubiquitous, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  Since that time, many books, blogs, and speeches have encouraged us to continue developing and growing the greatest asset that we have… ourselves.

Here at Think Data Insights, we value being a lifelong learner.  So much so that it’s one of our core values, and we specifically hire people who exhibit this trait.  As I reflect on my professional development and that of my team over the years, I have identified a few key traits that are indicative of true lifelong learners.

Read Books… Continuously

I am a voracious reader.  It’s something I enjoy.  Over the years, I have collected more than my share of books focusing on personal and professional development.  The e-book craze hit me hard. I would see something interesting and buy it almost immediately.  Needless to say, I have plenty to read in my free time.

In Thomas Stanley’s groundbreaking book, The Millionaire Next Door, Stanley says the average millionaire reads one non-fiction book per month.  Reading does something for the mind.  It engages with new ideas, challenges old ideas, and it connects the reader to a new world that they previously may have had no knowledge even existed.  It can help you get unstuck, and can prepare you for new phases of your professional journey.  My journey to business ownership started almost five years ago, when I began reading Jon Acuff, Michael Hyatt, Jim Collins, and others, who prompted me to really think about what the next step in my journey would be.

What is your next step?  What is that book you’ve been considering reading that might propel you to take that next bold step?

Open Yourself to New Opportunities

Richard Branson is quoted as saying, “If you are presented with an amazing opportunity, but are not sure you can do it, say ‘Yes’ anyway, and figure it out later.”  Why?  Ask yourself…what benefit is it to me to subject myself to new and scary experiences when I could just continue getting better at what I’m doing now?  My response to that very question is because it disrupts me just enough to do what I could never have done otherwise.  It forces me to exercise emotional, spiritual, and intellectual muscles that are sometimes atrophying without me even knowing it.

There have been multiple pivotal points in my 23-year career where I did just that.  I was scared, but I said “Yes” anyway.  It opened me to new experiences that I never would have had otherwise.  It is what led me to start Think Data Insights, and it is what keeps me going.

Surround Yourself with Great People

I don’t have all the answers.  I can’t solve every problem.  But I’ve learned to surround myself with people who can help point me in the right direction and will give me guidance when I need it (and sometimes when I don’t want it, but need it anyway).  These people help keep me “on the rails” and give me insights I never would have had otherwise.

If you take the time to focus on personal and professional development, you’ll be more joyful and passionate about what you do, and better serve your customers, team members and family.  What are you doing for your professional development today?  Do you take time to invest in you? Think Data Insights can provide you with the training and tools you need to maximize your potential and accelerate your professional development.