“To exist is to change, to change is to mature, to mature is to go on creating oneself endlessly.” – Henri-Louis Bergson
One of the realities of life for most people is the search for a plateau. When you hear people talk about the future, a big portion of what they say usually involves comments relating to how their ideal future is easier, less work, more successful, etc. The general idea is that somehow eventually we “get it all figured out”, and then we become some kind of Jedi Master who can just cruise on to retirement.
At the root of that thought process is the idea that once we master the things we need to do to succeed, it’s just a matter of repeating those things over and over until the end of our careers with no speed bumps along the way. We’ve become successful because we did or were good at certain things, so now all we have to do is continue to do those same things the same way and we’ve got it made.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Perhaps there was a time decades or centuries ago where once you became an expert at something you could just put it on auto pilot for the rest of your life. If there ever was such a time, it’s gone now.
The reality is that whatever you did to get where you are is not going to be good enough going forward. In the world we live in, one of the most important traits leaders can possess is that of being a life-long learner. There is so much change in every facet of business & life that even the things we’ve done that seemed most important will likely be irrelevant in just a few years. You have to seek out new critical skills & behaviors and then seek to master those. And you need to do that over and over again.
So ask yourself a simple question: What skill or behavior do I need to have mastered one year from now? Or even six months from now? Once you’ve answered that question, ask the second: What’s my plan for mastering that skill or behavior? It’s not enough to just identify what you need to do – you have to actually do it.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you’ve “arrived” you can start coasting. When you attain a leadership role in your organization, your learning has just begun. The “You” that got here won’t be good enough to stay. So what are you going to be next?