Continuing Education

One of the things I’ve been committed to throughout my various careers is continuing education. When I worked in a factory they began offering classes to the factory workers. This was about the time computers were showing up on people’s desks and out in the shop floor. The company paid our wages while we were in class, provided materials, and even paid us mileage to drive to their training center.

My first class was Introduction to DOS so this gives you an idea of how far back this occurred. Fortunately, they soon began offering classes in basic computer and soon after that they offered classes on Microsoft Office. When I bought my first computer the first program I bought was Office. Again, to tell you my age, I had to download 17 floppy disks to install Office on my computer. It took almost all my memory! I probably had the slowest computer known to man!

That was the start of my commitment to continuing education. As a church pastor and later a denominational leader I attended many seminars related to aspects of ministry. When I owned our heating and air conditioning business our primary vendor provided numerous seminars on the equipment we sold. I attended those as well as their other training events on marketing and management. Although I’ve retired from the factory and from active ministry, I stay busy operating an auction business I started about five years ago. To maintain our license we are required to take 16 hours of training before renewing the license each time.

Regardless of your career or occupation, it is changing rapidly. No one can afford to continue doing things the way they were first taught twenty years ago (or even five). New information is available. New products are introduced. Better ways of doing things are discovered all the time. This information is available to anyone willing to spend a few hours and dollars to attend the training opportunities that are offered.

Zig Ziglar observed a few years ago that job security no longer existed. He said the only thing people could count on was employment security. By that he meant that we should make ourselves so valuable and well-informed that if we lose our current job someone will want to hire us immediately. One of the ways to enjoy employment security is to remain informed about your field, and the simplest way to do that is to attend the training events that will permit that to happen.

I’ve heard the excuses people give for not attending those events. They are too busy to take the time away. The events cost too much. Many of them do not offer helpful information. The list of excuses goes on. But, here’s something you might want to think about: your competitor is attending them and learning things you know nothing about. This is going to give him or her a leg up and eventually they will eat your lunch and leave you wondering what happened.

I’ve had a goal of attending at least one such event each year, and two if I found that many that really appealed to me. Even the worst ones gave me an idea of two that I could try. Most of the events I’ve attended gave me many more than that.

One more tip: do not attend these events by yourself. Take someone from your organization with you. You want others to hear what you are hearing at the same time you are hearing it. Otherwise, you will go back and wonder why others aren’t as excited as you are about the new ideas you learned at the event.

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