One of the most important factors in success is being a constant learner. Someone who is always willing to learn is better equipped to adapt with changing circumstances, fail forward, remain humble, and discover new opportunities.
In the constantly changing business world of today, adaptability is vital. No matter what your job is, whether you’re an entrepreneur or an employee, it’s clear that the ability to adapt to change and reinvent yourself to stay on top of the constantly shifting business world is a key factor in who will find success. And for those eager to learn who are constantly seeking out new knowledge, opportunities, and challenges, there’s even greater potential for success.
I didn’t start my career planning to go into search engine optimization. But because I’ve always been a lifelong learner, I discovered it along the way. I actually got started in SEO when I was a DJ in Las Vegas, working at weddings. I started making an effort to market my services, first on the radio, and then eventually with a website. I learned about SEO as I built up the website, VegasWeddingMall.com. It eventually became a site where vendors could list their services to couples. As I gained traffic, I began to learn everything I could about SEO, and I built the website until it was ranking nationally for competitive keywords. Eventually, I sold both the website and my DJ business, and later began developing my own digital marketing agency.
Originally, my dream had been to make a fortune in real estate. When the housing market crashed, that dream was crushed with it. Thankfully, I remained adaptable. Because I had dedicated myself to learning SEO to promote my businesses, I had a new direction. After speaking at a seminar, several lawyers asked if I would take them on as SEO clients. I took the opportunity and began to create a digital marketing agency and focus on SEO. But I never would have found the opportunities I did in digital marketing if I hadn’t stayed curious and learned as much as I could about it, even though at the time, it was just to support my own website.
Having a learning mindset will get you much farther in life than just trying to do what you already know and are comfortable with. I had several sharp pivots in my career, and they’ve all been part of my success story. A learning mindset is open to new challenges and is confident in knowing you can adapt to whatever comes your way. Here are a few ways to foster a learning mindset:
- Stay humble.
Don’t let your ego get in your way. No matter how much you know about any given topic, there is always something you can still learn. Your ego can kill your curiosity and make you unwilling to learn new things. If you think you know what’s best, you won’t be open to new ideas and opportunities, and it will keep you from learning from others. Everyone you meet knows something that you don’t, so there’s always something to learn from someone, even if they’re younger or less experienced than you—recognizing this will help keep you humble. By understanding that there’s always something to learn from others, you will build better relationships and pay attention to glean knowledge from interactions you otherwise might have overlooked.
- Find mentors.
When you’re open to learning, people are often more willing to teach. Humility is also needed for mentorships, which are one of the best ways to learn. Find mentors for all parts of life, not just for your career. Whatever you want to accomplish, find someone who has already achieved that and see what you can learn from them. A mentorship doesn’t have to be a formal arrangement, though those types of mentorships can be extremely beneficial—you can also learn from observing someone or listening to what they have to say.
- Read as much as you can.
Reading is one of the greatest ways to gain knowledge and to grow. Seek out books on your field of expertise as well as books to help you develop personally. Keeping a reading journal is a good way to help you absorb what you read, or annotating books and taking notes in the margins.
- Learn to ask better questions.
One of the best ways we learn is through asking questions. Curiosity is a key component to learning and retaining information. You can practice curiosity through actively asking questions. The more you ask questions, the better you will become at asking intelligent questions that lead to interesting and useful information. Questions aren’t just for your mentors, either. Try taking a question-asking role in your next meeting or one-on-one conversation rather than offering information. You might be surprised what you’ll learn by asking the right questions and listening.By fostering curiosity and having a learning mindset, you will make yourself more adaptable to new situations, ready to learn whatever is needed to adjust. You’ll open yourself to new opportunities and discover things you’d never imagined.