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How To Learn What You Don’t Know

How To Learn What You Don’t Know


    I once knew a small company CEO who controversially brought three former accountants onto his management team. “It’s accountant overload,” one employee complained. “And what does accounting have to do with marketing and client relationship management anyway?”

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    The new leaders had other expertise besides accounting, but that’s not my point. When I spoke to the CEO, I learned that he surrounded himself with financial prowess because he considered this to be his personal area of weakness.  “I don’t have a strong accounting background, and yet finance plays a major role in every area of our business.   Issues are inevitably going to come up that I need solid and informed advice handling, even if I can’t identify those issues yet,” he told me.

    Over the last several years, I’ve had the opportunity to meet several CEOs. The one thing they all have in common is self-awareness. People who have gotten to the level of chief executive officer, whether at a large or small organization, are there because they know they don’t have all the answers and are receptive to continuous learning and improvement. They know what they don’t know.

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    In order to reach the next level of success in your career, it’s worth making an effort to uncover what you don’t know and/or what you may not do as well compared to others. I guarantee there’s something even if your job appears to be going smoothly. Here are four ideas to get you started:

    Inventory Sub-Optimal Situations

    The best way to uncover knowledge gaps is to closely examine your current work and identify areas where you are not succeeding as much as you wish you were, as well as the negative or unproductive scenarios that keep cropping up over and over again. For instance, this year I observed that I was able to score a lot of introductory meetings with potential new clients, but that I rarely converted those meetings into actual business. I eventually chalked it up to a deficit in sales skills and sought immediate mentorship on the subject.

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    Take an Assessment

    Many written and online surveys are available to help you identify both your strengths and weaknesses. BestUniversities.com has a nice roster of free tools. Because online surveys are not particularly reliable, I recommend taking several and trying to identify a pattern of similar results. Note that popular assessments like StrengthsFinder are not as useful in this capacity because they focus on capitalizing on your strengths and gloss over areas for improvement.

    Ask Colleagues Anonymously

    It’s important to regularly solicit 360 degree feedback on your performance even if you aren’t a manager. Devise specific questions like: “What is one thing I could do more effectively to make your job easier?” and “If I could take one professional development course this year, what do you think would be most helpful for me?” and survey everyone who has worked with you recently. Make sure that colleagues and reports know that they can respond anonymously, because all-positive feedback given under duress won’t do you any good.  If you don’t have a tool to do this in-house, Rypple is a terrific option.

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    Work with a Coach

    You can often learn a lot by talking with an objective third-party who is not personally invested in your work.  Career coaches are wonderful at sizing up your situation and recommending growth opportunities. For a recommendation, either ask a trusted colleague, friend, or expert, or consult an organization like the International Coaching Federation. Select someone who makes you feel comfortable, but who will also challenge you.

    If the acknowledgement of your imperfections makes you feel insecure, take heart. The first step to remedying any deficiency is to acknowledge it, and by admitting you don’t know what you don’t know, you’ve made a powerful proclamation about your future potential.

    (Photo credit: Businessman in Lotus Pose via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on April 9, 2020

    10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness

    10 Things High Achievers Do to Attain Greatness

    Do you ever secretly wish that you could achieve more with your time? You are not alone. Most people want more from their lives but simply don’t know where to start.

    The good news is that learning to accomplish greatness in your life is totally possible if you learn to study other successful high achievers.

    Find out what sparkling new patterns you want to implement in your own life by studying what real high achievers do in the round up below.

    1. They Know What They Want.

    That seems pretty obvious, but if you don’t have a clear goal, dream or desire in mind, how will you know when you’ve gotten where you wanted to be?

    Successful people have clear goals and a clear vision for how to get there.

    For example, Albert Einstein remained obsessed with the big questions and problems of physics, and he knew exactly what he wanted to do: he wanted to answer the questions and solve the problems that no one else had been able to. And guess what? He did just that.

    High achievers dream specific, plan smart, and confidently strive toward success.

    2. They Focus on Their Goals.

    Once achievers know what they want, they are tenacious and focused on forward progress toward their goals. They don’t run over people or deliberately hurt people to get what they want, but they do stay focused on the end goal in all their interactions and daily tasks.

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    Elon Musk, with a net worth of $21.2 billion, is considered revolutionary.[1] Some might have seen his plans to totally reinvent transportation methods, including fantasy-like transportation methods in outer space, a little silly. But Musk proved them all wrong by staying focused on his goals with hawk-like attention to detail. He spends hours and hours at the office focusing on his goals in order to achieve them.

    Learn How to Stay Focused on Your Goals in a Distracting World.

    3. They Are Passionate.

    It’s very helpful when reaching for a big goal to not just get excited by it, but to truly be passionate about it.

    High achievers often talk about how much fun they are having, or say that they would do what they do even if they weren’t getting paid (and in the beginning, they probably weren’t). That’s the kind of passion and positive outlook you need to achieve your highest goals.

    Bill Gates, creator of Microsoft, began his successful career early in life by simply being excited about things like video games and computers. You can be like Gates too. Identify your passions and pursue them in your career.

    4. They Don’t Procrastinate.

    Some of the things we have to do to meet our goals or achieve our dreams are not very easy, but high achievers are able to focus on what needs to get done and actually do it instead of living in a world of dreams. They have a plan and they can follow it starting right now.

    Even though you may not be into arts, you must have heard of Vincent van Gogh, one of the most influential artists of all time. He is a perfect example of someone who not only dared to dream, but also dared to act.

    Instead of procrastinating or staying in a rut, he made a choice to pursue art and dove in head-first. Although he only worked for about ten years due to a tragically short life, van Gogh produced an estimated 900 paintings and more than 1,000 drawings.[2]

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    If you want to get more out of your life, then stop dreaming and start taking actions today, not tomorrow: How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

    5. They Create Their Own Opportunities.

    True achievers know that they don’t have to be stuck in a box – they can create their own story through hard work.

    Brené Brown is a respected social researcher and increasingly popular speaker and author. She has been hosted on Oprah. She has written and published a slew of popular self-help books, and she has one of the most-watched TEDx talks in history.

    Interestingly, Brown didn’t start her story in a glamorous way. In fact, many social sciences professionals scoffed at her unusual methods of research and her passion for the topic of vulnerability and shame. Brown, however, continued forging her own path until she reached her destination: greatness.

    Brown is a striking example of a person who knew what she wanted and paved her way into her own story of success with dedication. High achievers know that nothing good comes without hard work. They are willing to create their own opportunities and don’t expect to be handed cookie-cutter dreams in life.

    6. They Have Positive Attitudes.

    Studies of high-performing students find that the happiest students are those who excel most academically.[3] The same holds true for adults in business and in life.

    If you have a good attitude, enjoy what you’re doing and remember that setbacks are temporary, it’s a lot easier to be successful. Without negativity, there’s nothing to hold you back from achieving whatever it is you want to achieve.

    A positive attitude also helps people to think of what they are doing as important, which is a great way to stay motivated and working toward a goal.

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    Jim Carey, the famous comedian and actor, began looking for gigs as a teenager. At age fifteen, he performed onstage and completely disappointed the crowd with a less-than-successful first performance. Carey ultimately succeeded, though, by maintaining a positive outlook. He is known for visualizing success, staying positive, and continuing to work hard.

    7. They Have a Team They Can Count On.

    High achievers know they can’t do everything themselves. There’s a time very early on when you can go it alone, but even the smallest startups need help. It’s actually easier for a company‒or a dream‒to grow more quickly if there are more people engaged in making it work.

    Your team could even be one or two trusted individuals who have your back when things get hard. Stephen King, an iconic author, submitted one of his first novels, “Carrie”, to more than 30 publishers. He received rejection after rejection and even threw his manuscript in the trash. His wife was his team; she pulled the manuscript out of the trash and asked him to try again. “Carrie” was a hit and became a springboard to a successful writing career spanning more than 50 bestsellers.

    High achievers are able to foster great relationships and build teams that can help them achieve what they want even faster. They tend to have an eye for talent and are good at attracting the right people to their teams.

    If you want to be a better leader, these tips can help: How to Master Your Management Skills and Build a Strong Team

    8. They Take Time for Themselves.

    Amid all this hard work, multitasking and big dreaming, high achievers know they need to take care of themselves too. Getting sick in the middle of a major launch isn’t good for anyone.

    So a lot of stories you read about people who’ve had a lot of success will note that they eat well, exercise regularly, try to get enough sleep and even occasionally take time away from the office to refuel.

    Emma Stone, a highly esteemed actress, is open with the media about her struggle with anxiety and stress.[4] She reportedly practices self-compassion, meditation, and self-kindness to take care of herself.

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    Successful people know that sacrifice is often required for success, but they understand what they need to do to keep their bodies and minds performing well.

    9. They Don’t Bad-Mouth Others.

    High achievers know better than to burn bridges. They practice the advice that you shouldn’t say bad things about others, and they usually listen more than they speak.

    They also tend not to compare themselves to others or get envious. They’re so focused on what they want to do that they don’t stop to look around at what others are doing.

    10. They Never Quit.

    Tyler Perry, an accomplished director, writer, and performer, faced early failures in both his personal life and professional life. Perry pushed through these personal challenges and dealt with failure after failure with his first production. Finally, his production gained momentum, and he is now successful because he never gave up.

    High achievers are tenacious, sticking to their plans and goals as long as they need to in order to get where they want to be. If they didn’t stick with it, they wouldn’t achieve anything.

    Final Thoughts

    Success and achievement are not just for the people mentioned above — they are for you, too!

    Unlock your future by finding your passions and goals, and working hard. Pay attention to what other high achievers around you are doing, and follow suit.

    Before you know it, you will be creating your own famous success story.

    More Tips About Achieving Success

    Featured photo credit: Fabrizio Verrecchia via unsplash.com

    Reference

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