The leader of a company knows the value of self-education. He is faced with a myriad of decisions every day, and is responsible for evaluating them and then making the appropriate choices for his company. The right decision can propel the company to new highs, while the wrong decision can send the company tumbling into bankruptcy. The boss has no one to turn to for guidance. Various sources of information can influence his decision, but the burden is his alone, so he cannot afford to be indecisive.
When he makes a decision, nobody will slap his hand and tell him heís wrong, and nobody will jump up and down and tell him what a brilliant move he made. Only the results of his decisions will determine whether he was right or wrong. Chances are, he made good decisions as he was rising through the ranks of the company. He taught himself how to be the boss and subsequently got the top job. Ambitious executives can attend classes to learn to become "leaders," but successful leaders have done a great deal of learning on their own in addition to any formal education or training.
A company boss has usually spent a significant amount of time as an employee, and knows that valuable employees must be treated well. Self-learners and self-starters have a good chance of being promoted, and a boss who is secure in his position will encourage his employees to learn on their own and try new things. Employees who have the courage to try something new and innovative are frequently rewarded with promotions.
Employees are often much more powerful than they realize. Cathy started out as the shipping and receiving clerk at the XYZ Corporation warehouse. She was very interested in her job, and learned a great deal about the warehouse procedures. She knew where the system bottlenecked, and saw how it could be improved. She discussed her observations with her supervisor, who quickly approved and implemented Cathyís suggestions. As a result, the warehouse ran more smoothly, and Cathy was rewarded with a raise and promotion. But Cathy didnít stop there. She kept learning, and continued to discuss her findings with her supervisors. After only a short time with XYZ Corporation, Cathy was promoted to warehouse manager.
A person who starts her own business is a prime example of a self-learner. Much like a company boss, nobody tells a business owner whether her decisions are right or wrong, but the profit-and-loss sheet will tell the story. An entrepreneur should be familiar with the many different aspects of starting a business, running it, and making it successful. Jane may start out with little more than an idea for a product or service that she believes will sell. From ground zero, she learns everything she can about product design, manufacturing, sales, marketing, and finance. She invests time in learning about her business because a good portion of her own money is at stake. If Jane does not learn to produce and sell her product or service effectively, she stands to lose a great deal.
Inventors start from scratch, quickly learning by trial and error. They represent the ultimate example of a self-learner.
Letís assume Frank has an idea for a product that does not yet exist. He imagines how the finished product will look and how it will work. He first draws a diagram of his product. Next, he researches methods of assembling materials into a crude prototype. This is just a first guess at what will work, not a plan for a finished product. He thinks it might work, but Frankís first prototype isnít quite right. Frankís job is just beginning. Itís not enough to know that it didnít work, he must now find out why it didnít work. When Frank finds out why his prototype didnít work he makes changes based upon what he has learned and tries again. This happens hundreds of times before Frankís invention is ready to be produced and sold.
A student who advances to the top of her class is a self-learner regardless of her age. She is highly motivated and productive, and if she is ever caught doing something without permission itís probably reading ahead in her textbooks. A self-learning student has a tremendous advantage over her counterparts who wait to be told what to learn. A college student who ďinventsĒ her own project might deservedly get extra credit.
Children are masters of self-learning. These geniuses have never been told that they cannot do what they envision, or that they cannot learn on their own. If they see something they want to do, they will try it with little or no thought of success or failure. If at first they are not successful they continue to try until they do succeed. Many of us could learn a great deal by watching children in action.
...excerpt from The Ultimate Lesson