Sunday, July 12, 2009



It’s been years since you tossed your graduation cap in the air? That shouldn’t spell the end of your education. The author of "Swim with Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive" gives a lesson on learning.

I have always been fascinated by the Japanese carp, otherwise known as koi.

This fish has seemingly unlimited growth potential. If you put a koi in a small fish bowl, it will grow to just two or three inches (five to 7.6 centimeters). In a larger tank or a small pond, it can reach 10 inches (25.4 centimeters). But if it is placed in a large lake, where it can really stretch out, a koi can grow to three feet (91.4 centimeters)

The size of the fish is proportional to the size of its home. It works that way with people, too. We grow – intellectually, of course – according to the size of our world.

It’s said you learn something new everyday. I would take that one step farther, and say that you need learn something new everyday. Waiting for someone to teach you a lesson, however, is a poor way to get an education. You have to make the effort to learn and grow so that you are worth more to your employer, co-workers, friends and family. Your potential is unlimited.

Is it up to your supervisor to prepare you for a promotion? May be a little, but the real responsibility lies much closer to home. You have to let your boss know that you are always ready for a new challenge and will do whatever it takes to prepare. You want to be qualified before the next job opens up, not disappoint after someone else fills it.

My guess is that most folks fall into comfortable habits and are content with the status quo. When something has been done the same way over a long period of time, it may be a good sign that it’s been done the wrong way all along. And remember, your coworkers and friends can only hear the same stories so many times.

I’m a big proponent of long life long learning. You don’t go to school once for a lifetime, you are in school all of your life. That’s why they call graduation ‘common cement" – it’s just the beginning.

There are growth opportunities everywhere for both work and leisure. Take a class. Get a library card – and use it. Learn to play a musical instrument. Study a foreign language. Visit an art museum. Sign up with a Toastmasters public speaking group. Drive home a different way. Taste a new food. Surf the internet on a topic you’ve wanted to know more about. Coach a team. Read a different section of the newspaper. Volunteer for a job that nobody else wants. Cut your apple in half horizontally instead of vertically and look for the star in the middle.

Transform yourself.

(Author: Harvey Mackay)