09 Feb Learn So You Can Earn!
What is your commitment to learning?
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to spend time with entrepreneurs and highly successful people. That’s by choice. Dan Kennedy’s conference in the early 2000s, a Peter Lowe event—if you’re old enough to remember those—a Tony Robbins seminar. Those were in-person events, but if I go back further, I remember listening to cassette tapes non-stop in my car, especially commuting to and from college. Yes, cassette tapes were “in” back then.
Back then (and even now), I would be constantly challenged to think about my personal and business plans going forward. And looking back, I’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last few years on education, mentors, programs, and more.
Sometimes I’d walk away feeling like I’d taken a drink from a fire hose. At the same time, I always walked away thinking huge—thinking with more clarity. And I found (and continue to find) huge value in learning away from our immediate work environment. Physically away from our work environment, I mean—no distractions.
In the summer of 2017, I spent a whole afternoon with the incredible Dr. Joe Vitale, who contributed a chapter to this book. I’ve pointedly reached out to other successful business people over the last several years, and continue to do so. I do this because I want to further my own learning, and I’m super clear that my own income is directly influenced by those experiences, and by those around me.
Learning Years Create Your Earning Years
During John F Kennedy's presidency, his Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara, once came to him and said he didn't feel qualified to be Defense Secretary. JFK's response was powerful. He simply replied, “There’s no school for presidents either. We’ll learn together.”
I mention this because it is a truth that has come up many times in my life and with many conversations about the various businesses my wife Kim and I have participated in over the years.
Those businesses have absolutely nothing to do with what I learned in college or what Kim went to hairdressing school for (during my college days, Kim paid the bills by working as a hairdresser). Now, college does provide some tools, as many of you know—and if you’re going to be a doctor or attorney or veterinarian, you obviously need specialized education. But generally speaking, I advise people to avoid getting bogged down in the diploma, the details, all the minutiae. As a general rule, you can never, ever learn too much about your line of work. But that really starts after college, for those of you who choose to go to college.
Information and skills are only as good as the uses you put them to. JFK wasn’t afraid of using new information. He constantly took in new information in order to change his mind about a particular issue or to learn new skills to help him do his job better. He continuously challenged himself with never-ending improvement.
Being able to learn new facts, to immerse yourself with others who do the same, and to continually step back and work on designing your life and business, is essential for success. Even more essentially, if you’re looking to grow your business, you’re going to have to grow yourself—non-stop. Let me give you an example. Todd Smith is one of my good friends, and he’d always say, “Chris, your income is always going to be directly related to your commitment to personal development, and to evolving and refining the skill sets for any given profession”
Notice how he says this holds true for any profession?
Your income is going to be directly related to your commitment to personal development, and to developing and refining the skill sets needed for your given profession. Think about that. I constantly challenge myself so I can be in a better position to teach others. I need to be able to coach others effectively and generally keep the ball moving forward relative to my own learning curve and to the growth of my businesses.
Those businesses now involve my son Nick, my son-in-law Zach, and my daughter Kayla, as well as a phenomenal team that’s helping us scale our growth. So it’s super-important to me to always be there for our team, our joint venture partners, our associates (students), and our clients across the country.
As Todd used to tell me, by teaching others to do what we do, we ensure constant, never-ending increases in their incomes. And if you’re doing that for yourself, you’re not just guaranteeing your own success. You’re guaranteeing the success of the people you hang out with, because they’re likely to follow suit. Isn’t it awesome to be able to say, “If I go out and learn, learn, learn this year, I know that it’s going to increase my income in my pocket next year”?
Let’s break that down: your learning year might be this year so your earning year can be next year. That cycle continues, if you choose. Too often, people let their learning slow down, which slows down their earning. Or worse, it could come to a complete stop: when you stop learning, you’re actually drifting backward. Think about it: you’re not just stopped. You’re drifting backward as your competition floats right past you on fast-forward.
Back to JFK, who said in 1960, “We all learn from the time we are born until the time we die. Events change. Conditions change. And you’d be extremely unwise to stop.” I’m going to amend that and say, “you’d be extremely unwise to stop immersing yourself in constant, never-ending improvement and learning.” Make your learning the focus of this year so next year can be your earning year.