Are you consciously sharpening your saw every day? Maybe it’s just because I’m living through it, but I truly believe that there’s never been an era that has experienced the rate of change that we’re enjoying/enduring now. It presents us with some remarkable opportunities to explore new tactics and tools but it also presents us with what sometimes feels like an insurmountable challenge of trying to keep current. With all of this change, how are you sharpening your saw?
A question from a reader (which I love, so keep them coming) got me thinking about all the ways we can and should be sharpening our saw so that we don’t get caught behind the times.
Read: It seems like a good book is published every single day. Even if you only consume a book a month, you’ll be ahead of most. If you can’t get through an entire book, try the audio version. Still too daunting? Then at the very least make a habit of reading a few good magazines. Be sure you stretch your boundaries. Sure, read Fast Company but also grab The Economist for some variety.
Listen: Podcasts have come a long way. Many authors and experts offer their insights in 10-60 minute sound bites that you can enjoy on your daily commute, while you walk the dog or as a team. One of my favorites is one that’s done by Iowa’s Nick Westergaard and DJ Waldow called The Work Talk Show. Although they’ve put it on hiatus—the existing 100 episodes are definitely worth a listen. Each episode digs into how successful people work – their habits, their tools and how they accomplish so much in a day.
Surf: Of course, you can always go to school by going online. Between all the blogs, free content, online courses, and other sites—you can fall into a rabbit hole that you’d never escape. Find a few reliable sites that focus on marketing and not just digital marketing. But don’t forget to also follow some trending sites and some that focus on your industry.
Watch: YouTube isn’t just for funny videos and previewing the Super Bowl spots. There are some incredible resources that will keep you inspired (Ted.com), on the cutting edge (Trend Hunter’s channel) and informed. Again, be sure to subscribe to a few so you don’t miss an episode.
Meet: Don’t be so overwhelmed by all of the content contained in our technology that you forget that your greatest teachers are probably other people. Seek them out. And don’t be fooled into thinking they have to be heralded experts. Your own peers are a great source for exploration and conversations. Whether you are better about attending conferences, being active in a professional association or just grabbing coffee with a colleague—don’t forget the most interactive teacher of all.
I can hear you now: that’s all fine and good but how in the heck does anyone find the time to consume all of this? I think it’s easier to consume all of this in bite-sized pieces. Find ways to weave the consumption into some new habits. Listening to a book or podcast while you’re on the treadmill means that for as long as you honor your New Year’s resolution, you’ll be learning something new.
One of the best ways to make sure you keep learning is to make it a team activity. It’s the combination of accountability and the camaraderie of learning together that will keep you more dedicated to the task. You can do a book club type of thing or you can create a culture that encourages everyone to not only learn, but also to share what they learned. But however you structure it, there’s value in doing it together.
Honestly, the key to actually doing this is deciding that it’s not optional. Because unless you want to quickly be obsolete, it’s not.