A home without books is like a room without windows.” – H. G. Rickover
Maybe it’s because I’ve just finished Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, but I’ve begun to notice–more than I ever did before–who does and doesn’t have books featured prominently in their offices. I know I have a book obsession, so the shelves upon shelves of books stacked upon each other is part mental illness (a good one) and part practical learner. Yet, what does it say about someone with an office devoid of books?
I don’t have an answer. It’s just more a curious question.
Reading for me is like applying large strips of Velcro to my brain. With each new thing I read, whether a business book, novel or local newspaper, I now have new information that other information can stick to. This new information always seems to help me find the patterns I need to drive the changes I want.
When you’re driving change, if you’ve lined your brain in Velcro, you’ll be better equipped to pick up patterns, to see connections and to catch the facts you need.
- Anything by Seth Godin, but especially Tribes and Linchpin
- Anything by Eli Goldratt, but especially The Goal and It’s Not Luck
- Anything by John Kotter, but especially Leading Change and Sense of Urgency
At Zappos.com, our #1 focus is our company culture. We believe that if we get the culture right, most of the other stuff, like great customer service and an enduring brand, will happen naturally on its own.
We found that “Tribal Leadership” describes many of the steps that we took intuitively to build the Zappos culture. We’re offering it for free to help others build great company cultures as well!
I’ll admit I just found the link tonight (thanks Hilbert!) so I haven’t listened to the book. While I have no personal recommendation to offer, if you’re craving something to listen to on your way to work, this may meet your needs.
Click on this link to get the book (note: You’ll have to create a Zappos.com account to get to the book).
Have you ever caught yourself in a meeting thinking, “How does that guy know about that and I don’t?”
Have you ever toured a new place and wondered, “Why didn’t my boss show me this sooner?”
Have you ever left training saying, “Why didn’t the company send us to this years ago?”
If you’ve had those moments, you’ve seen what you’re missing by waiting for others to drive you to learn.
You don’t have to wait.
You can drive your own learning.
There are lots of ways to drive your own learning, but if you’re more interested in steps that in multiple strategies, you can try these four steps.
Step 1: Choose to drive your own learning. It really is that simple to start.
Step 2: Read. You’ll have to read books if you want to learn at a fast pace.
Step 3: Create opportunities to see new things and meet new people. This step varies depending on your strengths. If seeing new things and meeting new people sounds awful to you, focus on finding a person who likes those things who’s willing to bring back all the best information to you. It’s not an ideal set up, but it’s better than nothing.
Step 4: Find the training you need and figure out a way to get it. Often finding training is easy; figuring out a way to get it is harder. If at first you’re told no, don’t give up. Find another route.
Step 5: Practice with the books you’ve read, the people you’ve met, the places you’ve been and the things you’ve been told. Only through practice will you get better at anything.
Are you willing to drive your own learning?
If you’re nodding at the computer screen, fabulous. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed. If you want some hints or tips on Steps 2 through 5, let me know.
If you’re shaking your head, wondering if driving your own learning will make any difference for you, maybe hearing what it felt like for me to come to Step 1 and what I’ve done since, will push you off the fence. You can check out my story below the fold.
If you’re not interested in driving your own learning, let me know if you change your mind. I’ll be here.
Want to improve yourself, your work, your family? Stop focusing your limited improvement time on your weaknesses. Spend the bulk of that time on your strengths.
If you don’t know what your strengths are, you should find out. And, finding out has never been cheaper.
For less than the price of a movie ticket (and popcorn), and for less than the time to watch the movie, you can learn your top five strengths.