The 1,000-Hour-Pro journey is not for the faint of heart. At its core, becoming a 1,000-Hour Pro is a lifelong commitment to learning. It’s an eyes, ears and mind-open attitude. And it all begins with admitting something to yourself:
You don’t know it all…and you never will.
Now, don’t worry. I haven’t been talking to your mom. If you’re like me, growing up you probably heard a couple times that you didn’t know it all, especially in those teen years. Back then, I’m sure I rolled my eyes and moved on with my day. But turns out my parents were right. I don’t know it all!
And that realization is freeing for the 1,000-Hour Pro because we’re constantly on the lookout for something we can learn. Scanning for something we can read about to expand our worldview. Examining every surrounding for a new area of study. Talking to our colleagues in search of a new skill we can add to our repertoire. We’re the learners of the world, and that’s going to lead us to continued success.
“In times of change, learners inherit the earth; while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.” –Eric Hoffer
You see, learning is a lifestyle. It’s natural to learn the things necessary to survive, but to learn feverishly is something you have to choose. It’s easy to sit back and be content with your skills, knowledge or worldview, but the world moves too quickly for that. The global, 21st Century world is changing by the second, and if you don’t learn with those changes, you’ll get left in the dust. And once you decide to start learning because you’re getting left behind, it’s too late. However, if you’re living in a constant state of learning, you’ll be ready. The thing you “need” to learn to keep up is just another routine part of your day because you’re already in motion.
Think of your learning as a snowball. You know quite a bit already, so your snowball is pretty big. Getting that three-feet-wide snowball rolling is quite the task. It’s heavy and probably a little frozen in place. Your learning is stuck. But if you get the snowball rolling, you’ll add more and more snow, or knowledge, and it’s easier to keep moving. If you roll it a little bit, stop and then try to start again, it’s a heck of lot harder to move along than if you keep that learning always churning.
Here are three really practical ways to make sure you’re taking the opportunity to learn every day:
- Read: This seems like a given, but I think it deserves saying. Don’t just read your friends’ Facebook updates or the latest article from ESPN or BuzzFeed. But take some time to intentionally read something new where you learn something different. Read someone’s opinion that’s different from yours. Read an actual book. Learn the newest schools of thinking in leadership or dive into a historical figure’s life. Simply being willing to read something that stretches you is the best and easiest place to start learning and growing yourself.
- Listen: There are an amazing number of podcasts in the world, covering every topic imaginable. Find a few that you really enjoy and commit. Stumble on one or two that expand an area you already know about and find a couple that are totally new to you. Diverse voices and new topics are everywhere if you’d just listen. But listening doesn’t only happen in structured “listen” time. Listen to the people around you. What do they know that you could learn? Maybe your deskmate has a really interesting opinion on the latest political controversy. The guy in the break room might spend his weekends learning everything there is to know about Winston Churchill. Or maybe it’s the designer who loves to actually talk about her craft and will share some tips with you. The world around you is full of knowledge if you’d stop to just hear what it has to say.
- Ask: Listening to those around you get you started, but to really dive in, you have to ask. People love to talk about the things they’re passionate about and knowledgeable about. Take your boss out to coffee and just ask what she’s learned about leadership over the years. Sit next to the accountant at lunch and ask his thoughts on ways to increase profits for your company. People who have had different experiences than you have knowledge you don’t have. You just need to ask for it to be unlocked.
Whatever your favorite way to learn, it doesn’t matter. As a 1,000-Hour Pro, you’re committing to learn and grow every single day, so that when change inevitably comes, you’re ready. You’re ready to use what you’ve already learned. You’re ready to be the first one to adapt. And most importantly, you’re ready to turn around and start learning again.