Before you read any further, let me acknowledge your intelligence. You and I both know that the answer to that question is, “Never!” So why ask a question when everyone knows the answer? The problem is that we don’t always put what we know into practice. We know we’re supposed to keep learning—but we don’t always read the books that will help us move our businesses forward. Sometimes we just need a little nudge—a reminder of what can happen when we keep learning.
I had a reminder myself just a few weeks ago. I read about how the outstanding businessman, T. Boone Pickens had just turned 89—way past the “normal” retirement age of 65. Pickens wrote, “My post-65 era has included the most productive years of my life.” Part of that productivity, no doubt, comes from his attitude. He also shared, “I embrace change. You can stay around as long as you stay active — and, of course as I’ve mentioned time and again — you have a plan.”
Pickens mentions two things there that are essential for any thriving, growing business: Embracing change and having a plan. If you don’t want to grow; if you don’t want to scale up your business so that you are ready to operate at a completely different level; the solution is easy: Stop learning now. If, however, you’re after the kind of growth that will require you to transform the way you do business, you need to pay attention to those two things.
- Embrace Change: Change isn’t easy. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s exciting. But embracing change doesn’t mean constantly changing your course or methods just to be doing something new. It does mean making sure that you have a clear, specific vision of where you want to go. And it also means being willing to change the way you do things in order to accomplish new goals. As Marshall Goldsmith’s book so succinctly states: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There. You can’t cling to current ways of operation if you want different results. If you want to grow your business, you’ve got to grow yourself—and your employees.
- Have a Plan: It’s not enough to give intellectual approval to the concept of change. You’ve actually got to implement it. That means setting specific, measurable goals and deadlines for implementation. It means that specific people are responsible for specific results. And it means using your weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings to check on your execution.
When is it time to stop learning? If you want to keep growing, the answer is never. But learning means embracing the changes that come with entering new territory. And it also means being willing to develop plans and holding yourself accountable for implementing those plans. If you’re interested in pursuing that kind of growth let’s talk together about how to make that happen in your business.