I received a note from a reader several weeks ago asking me to share what ways I thought were best for someone to develop himself/herself: what books to read, things to do, etc. As I considered what I do to learn new things and sharpen my skills as a financial counselor, I realized it might be an article worth sharing. Then again, maybe thinking that makes me egocentric and “uppity” – hopefully not. Anyway, here are some things I think you can do to improve your skills without ever setting foot in a classroom.
Read a Book
Not just any book will do – there is a lot of junk out there. If the last book you read had Jennifer Aniston on the cover or referenced how Princess Kate’s pregnancy is going, you’re probably not gaining much valuable education from what you’re reading. If, however, you’re reading a book with content worth underlining and notes worth sharing, you’re probably doing it right. Here are five books I’ve read recently that have been that way for me (and as a bonus, I’ve shared my favorite note from the book):
- Quitter by Jon Acuff – There is a point at which I hated my job (not the one I have now…another one). This book helped me walk through leaving that mess behind and building from the ground up something I really cared about. Favorite quote: “…developing our dream job is…a process of doing small but necessary things, over and over again, and letting the momentum build, instead of getting decked out by a fairy godmother and being escorted to prominence by a blinged-out carriage.”
- Stop Acting Rich by Dr. Thomas Stanley – This book is a little nerdy; there are lots of numbers and statistics. The guy who wrote it is a researcher, so he has to present his results…but oh, those results! “Rich people” are usually broke people is pretty much the message of this book. Favorite quote: “Conspicuous symbols of wealth, such as homes and motor vehicles, are better indicators of one’s credit use than of the size of one’s investment portfolio.”
- EntreLeadership by Dave Ramsey – In addition to being awesome in general, Dave runs a multi-million dollar business voted the #1 place to work in Nashville (where his offices are). He does all this with NO DEBT and with INTEGRITY. Favorite quote: “Be careful not to confuse processes with principles. Processes change all the time, principles must not.”
- Platform by Michael Hyatt – Why do some people always have a voice in any discussion? They have a platform. Michael Hyatt uses this book to outline how to develop your own platform and use it. GREAT book for self-marketing, bloggers, writers, etc. Favorite quote: “You will never see the full path. The important thing is to do the next right thing on the path.”
- Earn A Debt-Free College Degree by Cyrus Vanover – I actually know this guy! I used to work with Cy and he is an awesome guy. He wrote this book and unlike most “experts,” actually lived it out. Favorite quote: “We are conditioned from an early age to think that college is very expensive.” And then Cy goes into a bunch of reasons and ways it doesn’t have to be. This book ROCKS!
If you’ve never heard of Lumosity.com, you’re missing out. I spend about 10 minutes each day “playing games” on their website. The “games” are designed to help build brain power by literally exercising your brain. It is fun, simple, and it seems to be helping. My attention, speed of recall and mental flexibility are three things I’m working on. It is free (you can sign up for a “full access” account) and I really think it helps.
I used to tell Stacy that I couldn’t promise to be fully faithful to her because I was in a relationship with Little Debbie. Thankfully, that relationship has ended, but now I’m smitten with Lynda…Lynda.com that is. Lynda.com is not a free service, although they do have some free tutorials to give you an idea of how it works. If you want to develop any skill with any software (everything from Microsoft Office to Photoshop to well…anything), Lynda.com has top-notch tutorials on it. At work, I’ve signed our team up for a subscription and when you bought Stacy’s cookbook (you have bought it, right?!), you basically bought my homework from the Adobe InDesign courses I took.
This isn’t some online resource or fancy course. Listening is actually shutting up long enough to hear what is being said around you. I’ve heard it said that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. I love being around really smart people who have very little formal education. You know who I’m talking about – they can usually fix anything, never talk down to you (unless you treat them like they’re stupid) and always have nuggets of wisdom to share. Buy these people lunch in exchange for the conversation. Become a friend to these types of folks and LISTEN!
I could keep going, but that’s probably my top few ways to learn. What about you? How do you learn new things and sharpen your skills?