When we were young, there was a distinction between days for learning (weekdays) and days for fun (weekends).
No longer. If you want to get ahead in your career, you must take the approach that every day is a school day. In other words, there’s no room for Sunday slackers when it comes to your career. You must stay on your toes and in learning mode 24/7 if you want to stand out and move up.
It’s not just a commitment to continual learning that counts when it comes to treating every day as a school day. It also means to bring your best game to the table every time you walk through the doors of your office. You’ve seen co-workers who don’t do this”in fact, many people don’t do it, which gives you a much better chance at standing out to senior management when you do.
Why Keep Learning?
You already know what you need to know to get your job done passably and get by. So if it’s more work to keep the pressure on yourself to keep learning more, why do it? The short answer is, because it’s good for your brain and its ability to generate more neurons. The scientific community used to believe that we were born with a set number of brain cells. Research over the past 20 years has disproven that theory. The Society for Neuroscience reports that new brain cells continue to be created even once we’re adults.
The latest research suggests a correlation between learning and new neurons surviving in the region of the brain involved in learning and memory. In animal studies, researchers have shown that cells born before an animal’s learning experience were more likely to survive to become neurons but only if the animals actually learned. The increase in neuron generation occurred with tasks that required significant effort to learn them. In other words, it’s smart to keep your thinking cap on.
Another reason to keep learning is that it’s good for your career. Treating every day as a school day is what separates star performers from average employees. It’s the attitude edge that can give you an advantage in everything that happens to you at work, from receiving a key assignment to earning a larger raise.
Bring Your A Game
Many people choose to bring their A game to work, slacking off, gossiping, doing personal projects, and failing to commit all of their energy to their jobs during the hours that they are paid to do just that. They treat every day as a weekend rather than a school day. But that’s the wrong approach to use if you want to move toward greater career success.
To get ahead, you must do the opposite. Instead of doing the minimum, do the max. And do it every day. It’s the same across every business and industry, and there are no shortcuts.
Think about sports stars who have made it to the top of their field in order to stand out from the extreme competition, they had to bring their A game to the field or court every day, including during practice sessions. They had to outperform, outshine, and outlast their teammates as well as their rivals to become recognized and rewarded as the best athlete in their sport.
How do you bring your best self to work every day?
It may be simple but it’s not always easy. It involves being proactive, going the extra mile in the tasks you take on, and trying to find ways to increase your value to your company and colleagues even if it’s not part of your job description. It’s doing more than what’s expected and figuring out what that more is in your company. And most of all, it involves continuing to learn.
Even if you’ve been with your employer for several years, there’s always more that you can learn about the business. You can focus on learning the details behind your company’s processes, and come up with suggestions on how teams can do things better, faster, and more efficiently.
You can learn about how things work in different departments from your own, and offer ideas for improved intra-departmental communication. You can dig down deeper into the heart of your own department, finding ways that you and your colleagues can communicate more efficiently both internally and externally.
The options are endless, really all it takes is some imagination and initiative. In our next posting, we’ll explore specific strategies that you can use to stay in school while at work.