Thursday, June 16, 2011

Did you learn something new today?

If you’re not LEARNING, you’re LOSING

What the heck was I thinking?” I said to myself as the clearly over-caffeinated Drill Instructors shouted orders in a language containing words I understood but used in a manner that made absolutely no sense at all.  They shuffled us off the bus to the pavement and onto those infamous yellow footprints at Parris Island in the middle of the night.  I was a skinny kid from a small town with no idea what I had gotten myself into. 

You are now aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island South Carolina” the Drill Instructor barked, “And you have just taken the first step toward becoming a member of the world’s finest fighting force, the United States Marine Corps.”

The next 3 months were grueling.  The physical training, the mind games, the sleep deprivation, the instructions on weaponry and Marine Corps history....all of it was nothing like I had ever experienced.  But I soon learned that if I paid attention, and learned how to think quickly on my feet, it would be easier on me.  And I wasn’t a fan of doing pushups in the mud, so you better believe I started paying attention!

Several weeks into it, I remember looking back at how much I had changed and how much I had learned.  No longer was I a kid, but a man well on his way to becoming a Marine.  Many of the guys in my platoon didn’t make it.  Either they were too weak physically or mentally or they just gave up.  But for those of us who made it to the finish line, having our drill instructors call us “Marine” instead of the demeaning “Recruit” was worth all the struggles.

One of the things that had clearly occurred was I had learned something new throughout the process.  I put in the time to challenge myself, and in the end I came out as a better, improved person (with a military career ahead of me).  Yes, this may be a somewhat extreme example because we were practically forced to learn, adapt and change (not to mention we were held captive on an island surrounded by swamps in the “jungles” of South Carolina!).  But my point is that in order to have more, we need to do more and put in the time to improving ourselves.

Luckily in your professional life there are easier ways of improving yourself.  If you don’t have a degree and can’t afford to quit your job to return to school full time, there are ways to do both.  Many people juggle a full time job and a full class schedule, with the end result being twofold:

1-      You’ve improved your situation and are likely more marketable.
2-      You’ll feel that incredible sensation that accompanies accomplishment. 

In my opinion both are equally rewarding!  The sense of accomplishment alone is worth it, as it will naturally breed more success.

Perhaps you could benefit by pursuing a certification in your industry that would give you more knowledge and perhaps make you more marketable or more valuable to your current of future employer.  Many companies will pay for a portion of your ongoing education, especially if the coursework is related to your career.  Some companies will even pay 100% of tuition.  Check it out.  Know what your options are, and make a decision to learn something new.

If going back to school isn’t for you, you could always take on a challenging new project at work.  Step outside of your comfort zone and see where your search for learning takes you!

Whether it’s in a classroom setting or on-the-job-training, learning more will make you a more valuable asset to your employer.  If you’re looking for work, it will make you more marketable in your search.  If you’re a person with a passion for improving yourself (and I’m assuming you are since you’re reading this), you will give your brain an extra activity which in turn will ensure it continues working for you well into your old age.

As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.”  And if you learn something interesting, share it with someone else.  It’s no secret that this world could use a few more enlightened folks, and it’s just good social responsibility to PAY IT FORWARD!

Until next time, make it a great day!

1 comment:

  1. I never really "got" the whole boot camp thing. But, when I compare it to goal achievement I totally see the value in it. Setting goals so high that you have invest in incredible focus is something we should do all the time. Perhaps it's time for a little self inflicted boot camp.