Thursday, October 6, 2011
Your Career and You: "Never...Ever...Stop Learning"
I’m gearing up for a marathon Public Relations Society of America commit- ment next week. Two days of PRSA Board of Directors meetings followed by a day-long PRSA National Assembly. Then three seminar-packed days of the PRSA International Conference.
When it’s all over, to use one of my favorite expressions, “my brain is going to explode.”
Why? Because I will have spent roughly one week in the midst of the collective wisdom, experience, and expertise of 2,000-plus public relations professionals from around the world.
Some of these people I have worked for. Others I currently am serving with on the national board. Others are friends I haven’t met yet.
And I will learn something from each and every one of them.
Sometimes it will be tangible “lessons learned” advice and information in the course of casual conversations and/or program-related seminars. Other times it will be the nuances of a remark or an action.
Whatever the case, I will have learned how to address a situation, solve a problem, or conduct myself as a professional.
Now if you’ve been following my posts and done the math, I’m not exactly a newbie at this business.
I’m a newly-minted, card-carrying, certified “senior citizen”….sort of like being 21 all over again. And, after having worked in public relations for something like 35-plus years, I’m now teaching the next generation of PR practitioners at Curry College as full-time Associate Professor of Communication as well as at Regis College as part-time Lecturer in Communications.
It’s a ton of fun, and both gigs require that I stay on top of my game…keeping current in the latest trends in public relations and making sure that I pass along that knowledge to the students who trust me to provide them with at least the basic skills and abilities they need to make their own marks in life.
“Never stop learning” has been an ongoing theme in my writings and my classroom lectures. It comes from having “been there and done that.” It comes from having figured out that you’re only as good as those skills and abilities that you currently have.
This applies to “seasoned” professionals as well as to recent graduates who think that, having gotten the sheepskin, they’ve finished their responsibilities in the “student” arena.
Learning should be an integral part of your daily routine. Whether it’s in the workplace, where opportunities to acquire additional career-enhancing attributes usually are dripping off the wall, or on the homefront where new challenges pop up regularly, be proactive in enhancing your knowledge.
In other words, “learn from your mistakes.” Ask yourself what you’ve learned from your experiences, good…bad…or both.” Then ask what you would do differently the next time around.
Don’t get too cocky, though. Just because you “learned a lesson” this time is not your “get out of jail free card” for the future. Things will change...often.
The public relations profession…my home for the past umpteen years…changes seemingly by the day/hour/minute. Which means that you need to constantly be looking for and learning new things.
Which means you have to keep on the lookout for new trends, new challenges and opportunities, and new learning moments.
So my challenge to you is just this… “Never…ever…stop learning.”
“Leadership and learning are indispensible to each other.” – John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Remarks prepared for delivery at the Trade Mart in Dallas [November 22, 1963]