Resolve to Share Your Knowledge

knowledge0This year, rise above the standard resolutions that make you feel better about yourself (lose weight, drink more water, exercise) and do something that will make others feel good about you: Resolve to share your knowledge with co-workers, colleagues, family and friends.

It begins with a simple statement: “I resolve…to share more of my knowledge…with others.” The end result: When you give more, you get more in return.

You have been living in the Information Age for more than two decades now, and yes, people can find information on the Internet with a quick click of the mouse. However, the most meaningful information that you can give (and receive) comes through human contact, old-fashioned face-to-face interpersonal communication.

In your profession, you glean valuable information through your lived experience. That’s something that you cannot find on a spreadsheet or in a PowerPoint presentation. You share that information by telling your story. “When I started at this company ten years ago, we didn’t have a marketing director. Now we are shipping our products to 39 countries worldwide.” It’s that personal information that puts things into perspective for the listener.

Today, there are still some people who choose not to share their knowledge with others because they fear that someone else may assume their position. It sounds something like this: “It took me 25 years to get to where I am in this company. If anyone thinks I’m going to simply share all of my knowledge, well, they’re wrong!” This type of scarcity thinking holds those people back from greater achievement in their career and in life. Imagine the kind of work environment they could create if they became more inclusive and collaborative in their thinking and sharing of information. It positions them as true leaders who want others to succeed. They invest their time sharing their knowledge so that others can perform better on the job. What a concept.

Sharing your knowledge with others positions you as:

*Inclusive
*Caring about the success of others
*Collaborative
*Unselfish
*Giving
*Professional

As you think about the tremendous knowledge that you possess, think specifically about the kind of knowledge that you can (and will) share with the people around you. They will appreciate it for two reasons: 1) You have shortened their learning curve or 2) You have given them a critical piece of information that allows them to do their job.

Deliberately holding back information out of fear is so outdated. Share your knowledge with others and see how positively people will respond to you. Your giving will come back to you ten-fold.

Begin with the question: What knowledge can I share with others?

Get Smart About Generation Z

GeneraZWe have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the next generation in the workplace, and it is here: Generation Z (Gen Z), individuals born after 1995. With 23 million strong, this growing segment of the population has the attention of professionals ranging from human resource vice presidents to marketing executives. Those Gen Zs who are not pursuing college are already working; those who have chosen college will be hitting the workplace in the next three years.

In 2014, Sparks & Honey released its report on Gen Z. Their SlideShare presentation, Meet Generation Z: Forget Everything You Learned About Millennials, is illuminating and will answer many questions you have about this young audience.

Since I talk about multiple generations in my communication programs, it’s important to educate myself on this rising generation. There is much to learn about the different generations, what sets them apart, what they have lived through, what motivates them and how they communicate.

Here are a few interesting facts that to share:

According to the 2012 US Census Bureau, Gen Z currently makes up the largest population of all five generations at 25.9%, followed by Millenials (or Gen Y) at 24.5%, Baby Boomers at 23.6%, Gen X at 15.4% and Swing (or Traditionalists) at 10.5%.

Gen Z’s are socially aware and want to make a difference, are more entrepreneurial, are inclusive and embrace diversity, enjoy creating things and have a global social network.

These digital natives multitask using five screens (electronic devices) vs. Millennials who use just two screens simultaneously.

They are more private, preferring incognito social platforms like Snapchat, Whisper and Secret to more public platforms like Facebook.

If you want to connect better with Gen Z, Sparks & Honey recommends:

  • Recognize their diversity.
  • Communicate using images, like emojis, symbols, pictures and videos.
  • Stay connected using shorter, more frequent messaging.
  • Treat them as equals; don’t talk down to them.
  • Include them in collaborative efforts.
  • Feed their curiosity (and since they’re foodies, feed them too!).

The full report can be found at the Sparks & Honey website.

An excellent Gen Z Instagram designed by Marketo, using the top statistics from the Sparks & Honey report, provides an excellent quick visual reference.

Get smart about this next generation. They are entering the workplace with determination and ready to make a difference.

 

The Pro’s Code: Develop Your Skills

Part 13 in a series on professionalism.

Criteria 13: Highly developed skills. Has attained a certain level of expertise in a given area, and openly shares information with others.

SkillsYou have acquired certain skills and abilities throughout your life that makes you knowledgeable in certain topics or areas of interest. It’s often called your body of knowledge. But how do you become competent in those areas?

Competence comes from a deep knowledge and assimilation of a subject, enhanced by ongoing study or research. You know the topic cold, without having to reference any notes. For instance, you can be knowledgeable about the perennials in your garden. To become a competent gardener, you must know when to feed your plants, when to prune or divide them, and whether to plant them in sun or in shade. Your higher level of competency about gardening would translate into a consistently healthy garden. It takes a lot to become recognized as being competent in your field; you must add your own field experience to your education and training.

No matter what profession you choose, each offers a professional organization to join. Don’t discount what you can learn from your peers. When professional organizations host annual conferences, some of the learning takes place in the general sessions and breakout sessions. Between sessions, valuable learning happens through hallway conversations, when members can open up and exchange information and share valuable insights. Look at the associations that you belong to and ask how they are helping you to learn more, network with your peers and advance your career. You may be missing important opportunities that could heighten your level of professionalism. Joining a professional organization puts you in contact with other leaders and keeps you informed of the latest trends and innovations in your field.

The competent professional is the person who makes it to the short list every time, who people think of first, whether being considered for a higher level position at work or leading a volunteer organization, because they have developed their level of proficiency.

How would people describe your level of competence? Would they identify you as skilled, being knowledgeable, or being competent?

Open an Account at the Knowledge Bank, Part 3

japanese-garden-wallpaper-japanese-garden-wallpaper-bedroom-ideas-garden-garden-wall-garden.com-japan-japanese-japanese-garden-japanese-garden-wallpaper-japanese-garden-wallpaper-hdTen thousand hours. That’s how much time you must invest before you can master a new skill, as some experts claim. To build your Knowledge Bank, you must master the third part of the trilogy, application, which follows discipline and assimilation.

When you apply what you have learned, you practice or “try on” your new knowledge before you master it. How does it fit into your work and your life? For example, if you have learned a new method to better facilitate meetings, then begin using it in your next meeting. Adjust it where needed. As you use this new knowledge, ask questions like, “How else could I use this knowledge?” or “Is there some other way I can apply it?”

Author Napoleon Hill wrote the classic book, Think and Grow Rich in 1937, outlining 13 principles for leading a successful life. The fourth in the list is specialized knowledge. When I first read this book in the 1980s as a young professional, I was impressed with how simple Hill’s writing was. I remember him speaking of the importance of applying what you learn. With application comes knowledge. All these years later, Hill’s advice is still fresh and meaningful to me.

Consider the beauty and tranquility of a Japanese garden. The gardener must learn various techniques for carefully pruning shrubs and trees, meticulously sweeping leaves, and raking gravel to create traditional patterns. It takes months and years of practice to become master gardener of a Japanese garden.

What is different about the Knowledge Bank that I have covered in these past three posts is that it belongs to you, and you can build your bank so that it provides riches to you and to others. When you invest your knowledge in others, it pays dividends in their lives and in yours. You will feel good knowing that you played an important role in helping others learn and grow.

How much do you have invested in your Knowledge Bank?

How are you sharing your knowledge wealth with others?

Open an Account at the Knowledge Bank, Part 2

pen

Image by Anna Langova

How often have you attended a presentation at a conference or professional association event, taken a mountain of notes, come home and filed them away for “further reading.” And…you guessed it…”further” never happens.

Once you have disciplined yourself to learn (last week’s blog post), you are ready to assimilate, that is, absorb the information. As you absorb it, don’t just read the words; let them seep into your memory so that as you study it, you begin to understand it and how it works. Ultimately, you will be able to easily recall the new information from memory when you pick it apart and add meaning to it. Without meaning, all you have are just words on a page.

How can you assimilate when you are already in “information overload”? Who has the time to assimilate anyway? Here are three tools to help you:

Mind Mapping. One of my favorite tools for capturing information, taking notes and outlining a presentation is mind mapping, created by Tony Buzan. Mind mapping is a colorful way to capture information in a nonlinear, creative way rather than traditional linear note taking. It’s great if you are a visual learner. Even if you are left brained and more analytical, you can still benefit from mind mapping. Engineers in my training programs who claimed they could never use it discovered that they enjoyed it more than they initially thought.

Speed Reading. It took a school teacher, Evelyn Wood, in the late 1950s to discover speed reading. She noticed that by using the sweeping motion of her hand across a page, it acted as a visual guide as she read. She went on to establish the most recognizable speed reading course in the world. To get your eyes ready to speed read, check out this helpful eye exercise for speed reading created by Nevit Dilmen.

Memory Improvement. Mnemonic devices and images are just two examples of tools that help you remember information. As a child, you learned the alphabet using a song. To remember the length of months, it was a poem that anchored that information in my memory bank…

“Thirty days hath September…

April, June and November.

All the rest have thirty-one,

Except in Leap Year, that’s the time,

When February’s days are twenty-nine.”

A favorite site is Mind Tools. The best part: Be sure to sign up for their free weekly e-newsletter; you may get a free goodie.

As you can see, it takes a lot to not only keep up with information that’s coming at you; it requires discipline and assimilation to absorb it and remember it.

What can you do to better assimilate important information that you need to retain?

Open an Account at the Knowledge Bank

2Imagine what life would be like if you had your own private Knowledge Bank. Each time you wanted to fill your head with information, you would go to the Knowledge Bank for a withdrawal. What would happen if one day the bank teller said to you, “I’m sorry. Your Knowledge account is overdrawn. We can’t give you anymore knowledge.” That would be devastating. Fortunately, there are no limits to acquiring knowledge. Discipline, assimilation and application are the keys to making your brain work more efficiently.

Let’s look at Discipline. If you want to learn more, you have to get into the habit of making room in your life to make that learning happen. If you say, “I need to read more industry publications to keep up on what’s happening in my field” and you never read the journals — they just pile up in your office — then it is time to change that message to your brain from intent to action. Instead of saying, “I need to read…” say, “I am reading now…” Make it active in the present tense. You can say “I need to” for years without taking any action.

When you set aside time every day to do the learning, it will happen. Before you know it, it will become a habit that you won’t think about. You will simply do it.

I recently stumbled upon the Good Life Project’s excellent interview with Josh Kaufman, author of The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything…FastHis simple five-step process will open up your eyes to how simple it is to adopt discipline into your life to learn anything. It requires focus and practice to get to mastery. His process includes daily practice. That’s right. Daily practice. When you set aside time every day to learn and do the things you really want to, you begin to know and master them in a shorter period of time.

What is it that you have been postponing that could use the focus of discipline?

How can you make time every day to learn the things you really want to learn?

Next week we’ll explore assimilation.

What Are You Reading?

bulldog wearing eyeglasses sleeping over a good novel“What are you currently reading?” “Have you read any good books lately?” These two common questions come up often during conversations asked by friends, colleagues or people you have just met. What you have read or are reading reveals a lot about who you are as a person. Reading also includes social media forums and news feeds, what you choose to comment on, share, recommend or post. What you are reading reflects your position as an industry leader, expert and thought leader.

If you can answer these questions with an immediate affirmative response, then you position yourself as someone who is interested in new perspectives, current trends or fresh ideas. Translation: You are an intriguing person. If you have nothing to offer, like the answer, “No” or “I’m not reading anything right now,” you may position yourself as someone who is not interested in much or does not remain current. Translation: You have nothing to offer.

One of my favorite books, discovered by accident at a local bookstore a few years ago, is Soul Pancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions by Rainn Wilson (who plays Dwight Schrute on the TV show, The Office), along with Devon Gundry, Golriz Lucina and Shabnam Mogharabi. I must admit, it was the title that grabbed my attention. Once I opened the book, I was hooked. Like the title promises, the questions are really big and deserve attention. Did I mention that the book is also on The New York Times Best Seller List? Visit the Soul Pancake website at http://soulpancake.com for more great reading, videos and interactive activities to keep the conversation going.

Reading can stretch your thinking, challenge you, open up your mind to unlimited possibilities. What, then, are you currently reading?

How to Position Yourself as a Valuable Resource at Work

MP900439442When you set a strategic goal for yourself to “Become recognized as a valuable resource at work,” here are some potential action steps to take:

  1. Look for opportunities in meetings to openly share your ideas and opinions. Present your ideas in an inclusive, non-threatening manner, using confident (not aggressive) language.
  2. Be known as a subject matter expert. Let others know that you are a resource in your area of expertise, and that you would be happy to share your knowledge with them. Remember, you are a resource (humble), not a know-it-all (egotistical).
  3. Continue learning. Remain current on trends and market changes in your industry and in your field. Share that knowledge with others.
  4. Ask for more experience or more challenging work. If you want more experience or a more challenging work environment, discuss your desire with your boss or supervisor. The next time a large project comes up, who do you think s/he will think of first?
  5. Volunteer to work on more challenging projects. The room usually goes quiet when people ask for volunteers in meetings. A career-changing experience could be waiting for you on the other side of “yes.”
  6. Continue your education with classes or special certifications. The expectation with letters behind your name is this: You know your stuff.
  7. Be the best you can be, and produce consistently good work. You will gain the reputation of being knowledgeable and reliable.
  8. Share new information. When you attend conferences or professional development programs, share some of the highlights of what you learned with your colleagues.
  9. Work with people who will expand your thinking. Work on a team with people whom you admire and respect and who will stretch your thinking.
  10. Know what opportunity looks like when it comes knocking on your door. People’s careers can shift dramatically when they make one important strategic choice along the way. Lead a big project. Serve on a committee or task force. Accept a new position.
  11. Tell yourself, “I am a resource.” Own this title. Embrace it fully. Be proud of what you contribute to the organization.

When your resourcefulness shines, others will be attracted to you. They will recognize how  valuable you are to the organization. Begin today by creating your action plan.

 

Enroll in the Graduate School of the Mind

human-head-business-thinking copyImagine that you could create your own graduate level course to complete on your own timetable and for little or no financial investment. You can. Today, anyone can take the equivalent of a graduate level course by reading and studying books or taking online courses through Apple’s iTunes U or other free website resources. Even select colleges and universities offer complimentary courses for curious minds. With this approach, of course, you won’t have the tests, papers, theses or dissertations to complete yet the education is all there.

Let’s say you have been promoted into a management position within your organization and you want to learn more about leadership. Decide how much time you will dedicate each week to reading and studying. For now, we’ll say ten hours. At the end of one year, you will have invested more than 500 hours and educated yourself in a deeply focused way on the topic of leadership. When those studies are complete, if you like, you can choose a new educational topic theme, say, human performance. Each year, you could receive a new “degree” in a new topic area from the Graduate School of the Mind. To learn, retain information and grow, you must put what you learn into practice.

When people begin asking you questions like, “How do you know so much about leadership?,” you will answer with confidence, “I am very interested in the topic of leadership and have studied it extensively.” So the next time your organization is looking for someone with top leadership skills, who do you think they just might turn to? Think of the exciting topics you could explore and master if you just remained focused.

A Peer Group is a Prized Possession

Your peer group is one of your most valuable and prized possessions. Yet it is often under-appreciated. Could it be that we are taught from elementary school to compete with each other? I can honestly say that I would not be half the professional person I am today if it were not for my peers who helped me. One of the fastest ways to shorten any learning curve is to look to your peers for advice, guidance and assistance. You may be surprised how willing they are to share their knowledge.

A few years ago, I received a call from a young woman who was referred by a mutual colleague. She wanted advice on how she could reach people and let them know about her new business venture. I recommended several professional organizations to her. Based on my positive experiences, I mentioned how valuable peer support groups are and how generous people are with their time. There was a long silence and then she said, “Why would I want to spend time with my competitors?” Her comment stunned me. I couldn’t believe how short sighted she was. I explained the value that peers bring to your career. She was not interested in my philosophy. Oh well. I tried.

In what ways are you tapping into the knowledge of your peers? And how often do you share your knowledge with them?