Principle #20 in Jack Canfield’s book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be” is “Commit to Constant and Never-Ending Improvement.” This is one of the habits that successful people in any endeavor practice regularly. This includes professionals in business, sports, and the arts.
- Artists experiment with different media.
- Musicians often pick up a new instrument and learn how to play it.
- IT security professionals learn about new threats and how to protect against them.
- Doctors regularly learn new information and procedures and implement it into their practice.
Some of this is required. For example, doctors often need to earn continuing education units to keep their license. This helps ensure that the doctor you’re seeing isn’t still practicing with knowledge she gained 20 years ago.
However, even if you’re not required to seek improvement for your profession, it is an important principle for success.
Learning something new can often be challenging, but the good news is that you don’t have to do so all at once. By just doing a little at a time, you can often make big changes over time.
As an example, I often joke that I was too smart to go to college after I graduated high school. (Read that as “too smart for my own good.”) However, I later joined the Navy and after 22 years, I ended up with a Masters degree. Obviously, I didn’t do this all at once, but instead I did it a little at a time over many, many years.
Many IT professionals decide to earn technical certifications as a method of never-ending improvement. This helps them stay current and can often help them earn higher salaries. For example, professionals with the CCIE Security certification reportedly earn well over $100,000 a year. However, this is never the first certification they earn. Instead, they have studied and learned for several years, incrementally building on their knowledge. They may have started with the Security+ certification.
Never-Ending Improvement From Books
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”
– Harry S. Truman
Many leaders read as many as 5 books a month, or 52 books a year. That might seem like a lot, but many would argue that this practice is one of the reasons that they are successful.
One of the easiest ways to learn is from books. Pick one up, start reading, and you can often learn some valuable information.
Today’s technology makes reading books (or listening to books) much easier. For example, Audible makes it easy to download and listen to books on almost any device including smartphones, tablets, MP3 players, laptop and desktop computers, and the Amazon Echo. With the Audible membership, you get a free book every month.
When I’m at home, Alexa (of Amazon Echo fame) plays books for me in response to voice commands. When I get into my car, my smartphone syncs up with my car’s media system and can continue reading the book right where Alexa stopped.
If you want to pick up reading again, you might like this list of book recommendations from people like Bill and Melinda Gates, Elizabeth Gilbert (author of “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Big Magic“). Also, this article includes 5 tips to read 100 books a year. You can use the tips even if you don’t plan to read 100 books in a year though.
Never-Ending Improvement from Courses
Another way to seek never-ending improvement is from courses. This includes traditional classroom courses, but it also includes much more.
As an example, The Great Courses Plus is an online site with a wealth of knowledge delivered as videos. For as little as $14.99 a month, you can sign up and start binge-watching something different than the Simpsons. Topics include engineering, history, cybersecurity, mindfulness, cooking, drawing, investing, great museums, learning new languages, big data, and much, much more.
You can view any of the courses on your computer, tablet, smartphone, or smart TV. They’re also putting together ways you can watch on your Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV.
And no, you don’t have to complete a course all at once. Everything I’ve seen so far is that the courses are broken down into separate videos of about 30 minutes.
Never-Ending Improvement Questions
Remember, if you’re seeking never-ending improvement, you don’t have to do it all at once. It can be as simple as making a small change in your life such as deciding to read 20 minutes a day.
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.
The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
– John Maxwell
Some questions worth asking yourself about never-ending improvement are:
- When was the last time you did something for the first time?
- Is there one thing that you could add into your daily life routine?
- Is there something you’ve wanted to learn about, but have been putting off?
- Is there a book out waiting for you to pick it up and start reading (or listening to) it?
- Is there one thing that you do just a little bit more (such as exercise to improve your health)?
- Is there one thing that you do just a little bit less (such as drinking fewer sugary drinks to reduce your weight)?
About This Post
I’ve been learning from Jack Canfield (of Chicken Soup for the Soul fame) since 2008. I credit much of my success (including authoring or co-authoring more than 40 books) to applying principles in my life that he teaches. I’m currently going through his book “The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be,” covering one principle a week.