Jumpstart Your Career

The top people in their respective fields are always paid more and promoted faster

By Donald J. Strankowski
Ascend Career and Life Strategies, LLC

The top people in their respective fields are always paid more money and promoted faster through the ranks than other employees.  They also seem to have more doors opened for them and land opportunities and a more rapid rate.  It seems that the better and more knowledgeable they get, the better they want to get.  The fact that experts in their respective fields are paid much more money, hold distinguished positions, and are revered by their peers is not by accident or luck.  These people have worked hard to achieve the level they are at—and you can too.  The key to getting to the top of your profession and staying there is found in your dedication to self-development and lifelong learning.

The best way for you to set yourself apart from the rest of the people in your field is to be one of the few people who are learning and growing at a faster rate than everybody else.  The decision you make now can give you an edge for the rest of your career.  Some experts claim that your current level of skill and knowledge has an “expiration date” of about two and one half years which means that much of the information you utilize on a daily basis right now will be obsolete within two to three years.  You can either become a “change agent” (someone who embraces change) or become a victim of change.  The choice is 100 percent yours.  Committing to lifelong learning and deciding to be one of the best in your field will also improve your levels of confidence, courage, and self-esteem.  You will feel better about who you are, what you are contributing, and the difference you are making.

“If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse.” – Pat Riley, former professional basketball head coach

You should invest a small percentage of your overall income back into you—your own “self-development account.”  A two- percent investment for someone making $40,000 per year works out to be $800.  $800 can go a long way in your self-development.  It might be 30 books, 5-10 seminars, 10-15 audio programs, or any combination of these.  The real value lies within your return on investment or ROI.  Let’s assume for example that in your books, seminars, and tapes, you have picked up 20-25 new ideas that you can implement immediately in your job.  Implementing these new ideas will have an almost instant impact on your career.  The new ideas you learned through your own learning program will most probably give you at least a 100 percent return meaning that the $800 spent will transform into an additional $1600 in earnings over the next year.  The additional earnings may take the form of raises, promotions, bonuses, additional commission or even additional perks or time off for a “job well done.”  Some people have claimed that through ongoing learning and continually investing back into themselves, they have realized a personal ROI of 1000 and even 2000 percent in only one year!

The best methods for gaining valuable information for further developing yourself and your career are through books, audiocassettes/CD’s, and seminars.  You can also gain good information from certain magazines and by attending relevant tradeshows.

Books are a great way to stay informed and keep current in your particular industry.  The best way to purchase a book is to read first about the author.  I recommend reading books authored by people who are currently working in their particular field and are considered seasoned experts. I’ve also found that the first few minutes in the morning is the best time to read insightful material.  Your mind seems to be most open to new ideas and will comprehend a higher percentage of what you read during this time.  It also sets a very positive tone for your day. Always purchase your books.  Underline the key points, phrases, and highlight certain paragraphs as you read.  This way, you can go back and review the key points in an entire book in just a few minutes, rather than having to search or re-read the whole thing.

Most of the business book bestsellers are also available on audio.  If you put in a lot of driving time on your job or have a long commute each day, you can actually get the equivalent of full-time university attendance simply by listening to audiocassettes or a CD as you drive rather than the radio.  Listening to audiocassettes also takes away a lot of the boredom and frustration driving can create.  It was amazing how many times I was able to apply—that same day—what I had just learned during my drive time.

Seminars are also an effective method for furthering your education. Similar to the guidelines mentioned for purchasing books, attend seminars conducted by experts in their field or by people who are active in their industry.

By dedicating yourself to a lifelong learning program, you will be learning from the best; people who have achieved the same goals and aspirations you have set for yourself.  Learn from these people’s success and mistakes—this alone can supercharge your career and save you years of trial and error.  Even if you can use and internalize one good idea from each book, tape, or seminar, you will be moving ahead in your career much faster than the status quo crowd.  You will be on your way to becoming more efficient at what you do; earning more money and actually working fewer hours.

Feel free to email me at [email protected] for a free list of recommended books and audio programs.

Donald J. Strankowski Jr. is founder and President of Ascend Career and Life Strategies, a training and consulting firm for businesses, professionals, executives.  He works out of Boulder, Colorado and can be contacted at 303-245-7049, via email at [email protected], or on the web at www.AscendCareers.net.