Many of us grow up hearing go to school, get a good education and get a good job. Great advice. I did just that, cramming a 4 year degree in to 7+ years. Worked in the industry of my degree as I was working my way through college (rare to actually work in field of study). 25 years later most of what I had learned in college is no longer applicable as I had an IS degree. I don't hear a lot of need for a lot of Cobol or Fortran programmers out there.
In the ever evolving technology field ongoing education and training is a must. This can come in the form of specific classes or a set of courses to learn about a given technology (MCSE, Cisco, etc.) or simply keeping apprised of the latest and greatest via self study from various online sources, periodicals and work resources to name a few. This, by the way, is not isolated to just technology, but most career fields. To move ahead one must continue to educate themselves which brings me to my intent of this article.
Being employed as an individual contributor in many positions from software testing, technical support and outsourced sales to management and upper leadership positions in large corporations to businesses with fewer than 50 employees as well as being self employed I have found that the overwhelming reason that those that do not succeed is not from a lack of formal education or training, but attitude. This unfortunately is not taught between the walls of a brick building and sadly is rarely taught at any level of business. I am not just talking about walking around with a smile and being pleasant all the time either (although this is a good trait)!
Over 20 years ago I was introduced to a network of highly successful businessmen that differed greatly from what I had deemed successful in corporate America. Just talking with them you knew something was different. A couple of them were highly educated through formal education and several were not, yet all had one thing in common. They read, a lot. Although their rolls in their businesses did involve a lot of sales and leadership positions, the books they read were not primarily sales books. Yes, they had read a few, such as Og Mandino's books (Greatest Salesman in The World & other Og books), How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success by Frank Bettger and others. Even these books differed greatly from a very good sales book by say Jeffrey Gitomer in his The Little Red Book of Sales. They were much more focused on the attitude towards sales, building character, integrity, honesty and most importantly people skills.
Now the real meat. People skills and attitude. These two items alone can make the difference between success and failure in your job, business, marriage, raising your kids and most every area of your life. With out getting into a lot of detail, having excellent social skills is king. I don't mean having the gift to gab either. What I am talking about is having an appreciation for others no matter what they do or where they come from (being non-judgmental), having a desire to want to uplift, encourage and edify those you have influence with and generally to make a positive impact. Yes, some are blessed with a natural innate ability with regards to people skills, but I can tell you I for one was not. I learned it all from reading and watching others. Fortunately I did have the opportunity to see some the ideas put into action, but even without this I now had the resources.
I don't have the time to explain what I learned in these books as that is a good sized library that I am looking over as I write this. I will give you a few highlights and then a few books that you can turn to, although there are many, many more equally good resources not listed or discussed here. Probably my favorite book (other than the Bible) is a must read by every high school student and should be reread every year there after. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. The book talks about some basics like not criticizing, condemning or complaining, giving honest and sincere appreciation, taking a sincere interest in others and so much more. Another excellent Carnegie book is How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.
For all us worry warts out there this is gold. Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill discussed the mindset on becoming successful as does Succeed and Grow Rich Through Persuasion, also Hill and Grow Rich While You Sleep by Ben Sweetland. Granted, success is not necessarily defined by one's material wealth, but what these books teach is that you first need the right attitude and mindset to even be in the running.
Speaking of right attitude, The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale is a must read. Some of my favorites though, are more relationship oriented, such as The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman which talks about how to love spouse in a manner that they can truly appreciate. Man of Steal and Velvet is a relationship book of sorts, but more of building character. You may ask what these relationship books have to do with people skills and attitude? Everything. After all, your success or lack there off is often determined by you ability to prosper in relationships of all types and these books give you the heart and spirit in which to do so.
I know this is not an exhaustive list and over the years I have had many books recommended, of which some are listed below or mentioned above, but once you get through the few I mentioned above you will find many other related books. I have been blessed to work with our sales trainer at Qeh2, Mr. Steve Woolley who encourages us to NEVER stop reading and our managing partner, Eric Pratt (Revenue River) who will bend over backwards to get us these resources. Thank you Steve and Eric for fostering this environment in the work place as it is rare. If you're not growing in life, you're going backwards. I encourage those of you reading this to get hooked on reading at least a book a month (or listening, as I often do via Audible.com). You often notice someone who has a good reading habit and is in growth mode. They have more and different ideas, they walk a little faster, they talk a little faster and typically their attitude is more positive.
Let's make that someone you. Below are just a few more from my personal library. Happy reading.
Enthusiasm Makes The Difference - Norman Vincent Peale
The Emyth Revisited - Michael Gerber
Become a Better You - Joel Olsteen
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People - Stephen R. Covey
Dare to Discipline Yourself - Dale E. Galloway
Thinking For A Change - John C. Maxwell
Your Personality Tree - Florence Littauer
Who Moved My Cheese - Spencer Johnson M.D.
Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do - Robert H. Schuller
If Only He Knew - Gary Smalley