I’m a big fan of personal and professional development. You kind of have to be when you’re in this line of business.
I’m much more likely to watch a TED talk or listen to an instructional podcast than watch the latest binge-worthy Netflix series. (I’ve purposefully never watched Game of Thrones because I know it will suck me in.)
It may seem boring, but I have a trick that keeps things interesting. It also keeps me from being a boring person who can only talk about a few things.
I reach far and wide for people and programs to learn from. For example, I don’t listen solely to sales podcasts or watch videos on why I should wake up at 4:00 am to go and seize the day.
By listening to a broad selection of voices and perspectives, I get new and interesting ideas to act on. And it keeps learning (and me) from getting stale
Different Perspectives Create New Approaches
For example, right now I usually watch YouTube while eating my breakfast. The 3 channels that I watch regularly are VlogBrothers (a wide-ranging channel run by YA authors Hank and John Green), Extra Credits (which covers strategic approaches to video-game design), and Tabletop Minions (devoted to tabletop wargaming which was a favorite hobby in my youth).
None of these are focused on sales, entrepreneurship, networking, or the like. Yet all of them give me great ideas on how to approach those areas as they cover their topics of choice. I can use the dynamics of playing a tabletop game to examine interpersonal relationships. Or I can see the creative struggles of game design as a lens into the creation of processes in a new business. It gives me the opportunity to hear lessons in a different way, one that might resonate more effectively.
And it keeps it fresh.
I’m not suggesting that you need to follow these channels to get personal development lessons in a new package. But I would suggest that you find ways that are interesting to you so that you can invest in yourself even as you are watching videos, listening to podcasts, or reading articles online. Find sources of information that are in tangential areas from what you do every day (ones that you enjoy), and find ways to learn from them.
Ask yourself while you watch, listen, or read, “How does this apply to what I’m working on right now?” You’ll be surprised at what you can learn when you open up.
Avoid Empty Brain Calories
The comedian Jim Gaffigan once equated the consumption of pop culture to eating McDonald’s food. He pointed out that you can put empty calories into your mind just as easily as you can your body.
So be mindful of what you put into your head. Sure, there’s a time and place to completely unwind and kick back. Every once in a while, it’s good to eat at McDonald’s or watch an episode of mindless TV. But the best entertainment can help you relax and learn at the same time. Seek it out, and you’ll be rewarded.