Archives For Continuing Education

The only source of knowledge is experience.
~ Albert Einstein

If someone were to ask you to write down a list of the top 5 most intelligent individuals, there is a high probability that your list would include Albert Einstein. After all in 1999, Einstein was titled Time magazine’s “Person of the Century.” Yet how was it that Einstein came to be one of our nation’s greatest heroes and icon? Was it his discovery of the connection to space and time? Was it his awarding of the Nobel Prize for his numerous breakthroughs in physics? Or was it his contribution to civil rights? The silly picture of the old German sticking his tongue out? The answer is all of them.

From a young age, Albert Einstein exuberated a curiosity and hunger for the mysterious. This craving lead him into the field of science, which at the time was full of answer-less questions and endless possibilities for someone who was brave enough to find the solutions. He began to pursue his interests at the age of 10, so, according to Nightingale’s 10,000 rule, if he invested only 5 hours a day toward science/physics by the age of 16 he could have been considered an expert in his field of study. He graduated from high school at the age of 17 and immediately enrolled in Zürich Polytechnic’s four-year mathematics and physics teaching diploma program. Now that is a continuation of education.

His experiences, and passion for scientific knowledge guided him to uncover some of humanities greatest mysteries and fed him the confidence to stand for what people should know, and to fight for the idea that everyone had the right to know, no matter their color or religious preference.

His specialized knowledge for science/physics has touched more lives than most realize. Anything from televisions, remote controls, lasers and DVD-players, Einstein has had some involvement in. Through his discoveries he has ended a war, prevented others, and saved many lives. Though it could be argued that in his creation and approval of the atom bomb actually condemned many lives rather than saving them, it is best to listen to his reasoning before you get the wrong idea;

“I made one great mistake in my life—when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made; but there was some justification—the danger that the Germans would make them …” – Einstein: The Life and Times by Ronald Clark. page 752

Though he was a great pacifist, Einstein knew through his experience and his specialized knowledge that if someone with truer intentions didn’t make that big move, the Germans would and potentially destroy all that he’d worked for, including the peace he’d worked to make possible.

What do you know? What is your specialized knowledge? Why do you consider that your area of expertise? Most consider the field they went to school to study is their specialized knowledge and unfortunately some think that is when the knowledge gathering ends.

General knowledge, although important, won’t necessarily get you to the level of success you want. Specialized knowledge could get you to the top of your field.

Now don’t let me mislead you, just because you went to college for a specific field doesn’t really make you one of the experts in the field. Education is a great start but to truly become a subject matter expert (SME) you need to devote time into REALLY learning about your field. Anyone can go to school to receive a piece of paper to get you in the door for a job, specialized knowledge may keep you in that job, or better yet, get you that advancement.

Earle Nightingale stated that you need to have about 10,000 hours in studying a subject before you can become known as an industry expert. That means if you want to become an expert in your area within a year you’ll need to put in 27 hours a DAY. The last time I looked a day isn’t 27 hours long so that’s unrealistic, even in two years that’s about 14 hours a day, still again not very realistic.

With that, a four year degree, if you went to school 5 days a week, would still mean your daily commitment would equal about 9 hours. That’s why most people don’t become experts in their major because they don’t continue increasing their knowledge in their area of expertise after they get that degree.

Bottom line, you really need to dedicate yourself to a daily commitment to feed your knowledge. How many hours a day can you dedicate to increasing your specialized knowledge? Even if you spend two hours daily it’ll take you about 13 years to get in 10,000 hours of training.

Consistency is one of the keys to being recognized as having specialized knowledge? At work do you spend time each day learning something new about your job? What do you do in the evening? Watch television or dedicate time to learning. Now I’m not knocking television, there are some great programs, but there are also some great time wasters.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that in 2013 Americans spent on average 2.8 hours a day watching television, the most popular leisure activity. The second most frequent was spending time socializing with others at 43 minutes per day. In reference to leisure activities Americans participated in the joy of reading at about 27 minutes for men and 40 minutes for women.

What’s the lesson for this chapter of Think and Grow Rich? A college education doesn’t necessarily mean you have the knowledge level you need for your chosen field. It will give you the same edge as other students grabbing their diplomas, however what will set you apart is the time you spend learning your profession after you get out of school.

This information should be a relief for those that haven’t dedicated money into a formal education. A degree may be needed to get you in the seat of certain jobs, but to become a recognized expert you need to put the time in to your profession.

Now here’s a thought, if you’re not interested in investing money into a formal education, take that time you would spend sitting in a classroom and work for free. Contact one of the top people in the field and ask if you can be their personal assistant. But let them know the reason why you want to work for free. I know this sounds like an internship, but most of the time that’s linked to an educational center. Napoleon Hill even worked for President Eisenhower for only one dollar a year in order to increase his knowledge on what successful people do.

Another source of free education is the internet. There are a number of web sites that offer college level courses. It may not get you that diploma but it can give you specialized knowledge, because you get to choose what classes to focus on. Coursera is one of the on-line companies that offer classes.

Benjamin Franklin once said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” He helped all of us increase our specialized knowledge by starting the first public library. A free source of information that not only offers the information but a place to study. His contribution to our nation’s knowledge opened many doors, including more libraries, which allowed many to learn. Although the PEW Institute reported in 2013 that only 48% of Americans have visited a public library in the past 12 months, down from 53% in 2012.

What areas of your life do you need more knowledge in?

Is persistence an uncommon word? How many people can you think of that are truly persistent?

I was reading a study about how 31% of employees are actively disengaged in their jobs. The only thing they seem to be persistent at is the ability to do the minimum until it’s time to retire.

Have you looked at someone who is successful and asked yourself how did they get there? I think Calvin Coolidge made life an even playing field when he said,

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “press on” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

So, through persistence, can a person become successful? Personally I believe there are many levels, besides persistence, to one’s success. But without it, is any of that possible?

So what really causes someone to be persistent? Napoleon Hill in Think and Grow Rich has a chapter on persistence and lists definite causes for a person to have persistence and how it can be cultivated;

  • Definiteness of Purpose – What do you really want in life? It seems like some people really struggle with this question. It’s almost like they’re afraid to unleash the thought. Once you realize your purpose you’ll either have to change or become disappointed because you struggle to live it.
  • Desire – What do you really desire? Do you dream about something but think you’ll never get it? Well, stop thinking like that! The only person stopping you from your desire is YOU.
  • Self-Reliance – Here’s one of the problems that folks have, they don’t believe in themselves. If you’re not self-reliant, if you need people to get you started, you won’t go far.
  • Definiteness of Plans – How do you get there? How do you achieve your purpose? You need to develop a plan.  Just thinking through the steps to get you there is a start, and then get it on paper so you can read it daily and adjust it as needed.
  • Accurate Knowledge – If you know that your plans will work, great. If you’re unsure, than you’ll struggle to follow through with them. Learn more about how to achieve your purpose, find others who are doing it and ask questions.
  • Cooperation – Seek support from others. They’ll either support your purpose or dispute it. If they dispute it, find a new friend.
  • Willpower – You will never get anywhere, even out of bed, unless you have willpower. You need willpower to do what you haven’t done before.
  • Habit – Persistence is the direct result of habit. Good habits help us move forward, bad habits keep us where we are or more than likely, set us back.

When it comes down to it, people with persistence just get it done. They take what some say is impossible and end up beating the odds, through persistence and will-power. They don’t become defeated.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” ~ Maya Angelou

If you struggle being persistent, then think about how to increase your will power muscle. Just like other muscles that need to be flexed and used, so does your will power. This is essential if you don’t like doing the tasks on your “To Do” list.

You find people at work who are successful because they get things done by being persistent. They may not even really enjoy what they’re doing, but they do it because they’ve developed positive habits. Here’s some of the habits I think attribute to being persistent.

  • Be timely. This doesn’t include showing up to work on time, which should be expected in order to keep your job. Being timely is showing up to meetings on time and ready, having reports completed on time, and meeting assigned milestones. I know that things happen and deadlines are missed, but then you need to be timely in explaining why it’ll be late, not after it is.
  • Be organized. This is a real struggle for some people because their work area is a cluttered mess. If you spend too much time looking for something in your “organized mess” and it’s impacting your productivity, than it may be time to straighten up, unless you like being persistently disorganized.
  • Be respectful. I know you’re asking how this relates to being persistent. I think it’s important to be persistently respectful, even when people get you upset. It’s a sign of self-control, and you’ll struggle being persistent in other areas if you struggle being persistently respectful. Do you think that when someone is disrespectful it’s a way they’re covering up their own insecurities?

One way is to set a time to focus on the tasks and stay at it till it’s completed or set a finish time. Maybe you only want to work on the dreadful task for an hour, schedule the time on your calendar, just like the meeting that you dread, but feel obligated to attend.

If you’re like me I tend to procrastinate and end up rushing at the end to get it done. For me it’s this newsletter, I wasn’t persistent this last year and missed a couple of months. I made the excuse that I was too busy helping my wife start the Mandan Diner and Soda Fountain, but if it writing this newsletter was a priority, I would’ve made it a priority.

What do you need to be more persistent at in 2014?


To Maximize Growth, Develop Strategies

This may be one of the hardest things to do to keep growing. No, not to develop a plan, the hard part is to believe that you need one.

© luna2631 - Fotolia

© luna2631 – Fotolia

When you stop planning your life, you stop growing and you start regressing. Nothing stays the same, if you stop growing everything around you is still changing and improving, and you’re not.When looking at the following list of areas in a person’s life, I would think that most of us plan our careers. But how many people plan other areas of their life? Here’s a list of life activities, do you let them happen by chance and which areas of your life should receive the most planning for growth?

  • Career
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Health
  • Hobby
  • Marriage
  • Personal Growth
  • Free Time

We know (or must people know) why you need to work, to fill our basic needs of food, clothing and shelter. Everything else is optional after that and the level of your basic needs is determined by your expectations. Some people are comfortable living on government subsidies, others would rather work to death then accept a hand out.

Both of these groups of people need to design systems to grow, but the first group either has a self-limiting mindset or just lazy. The second group doesn’t have time to design a growth system beyond work, and if they’re not advancing then that plan isn’t working either.

I think there are two basic reasons people don’t develop growth plans. Some people don’t believe that they should or need to and others think that it’s too complicated. In order to design a system that works for you John lists five questions to ask yourself when designing or refining your systems for growth.

  • The Big Picture – Will this system help you reach your big-picture goals?
  • Your Priorities – Is this system consistent with your goals?
  • Measurement – Does this system have a tangible means of determining your success?
  • Application – Does this system have a built in bias toward action?
  • Organization – Does this system make the best use of your time?
  • Consistency – Will you repeat this system on a regular basis?

I think another question you need to ask yourself before these five questions is; “Why?”

Why is it important for you to have a growth plan in specific areas of your life?

What are the benefits if you do? What are the consequences if you don’t?

Take some time this week to explore these thoughts.

“If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they may have planned for you? Not much.”   ~ Jim Rohn



Why are some people able to overcome their fear of some things and other people can’t? Phobias control some people’s lives, it freezes them and prevents them from moving forward.

© iQoncept 2 - Fotolia

© iQoncept 2 – Fotolia

Others can jump out of planes and fall through the sky, but they’re afraid to speak to a group of people.

What stops a person from pursuing their ambitions and dreams?

One of the first places I looked for answers was in Napoleon Hill’s book, “Think and Grow Rich.” He explains how the following Six Basic Fears prevent people from taking action;

  • Poverty – Napoleon Hill says that the fear of poverty is just a state of mind. There are a lot of happy people who are poor, and rich people who are miserable. It’s your state of mind and probably the desire for materialistic possessions. Mr. Hill also says that poverty is the most destructive of the six basic fears and list six symptoms of poverty, indifference, indecision, doubt, worry, over caution, and procrastination.
  • Criticism – Isn’t there enough criticism in the world today.  It seems like every time you turn around you’re being criticized. When you think about it, do the ones closest to you criticize you the most? You would think that they would encourage you the most, but sometimes that isn’t the case because they’re dealing with their own fears. Now, if you have kids, how have you criticized them?
  • Ill Health – Here’s hard pill to swallow, Mr. Hill states that 75 percent of all people who visit a doctor is a hypochondriac (at least in 1937). He also states that the fear of a specific illness may actually bring it on. The human mind can either build or destroy.
  • Loss of Love from Someone – Mr. Hill says this may be the most painful of the six fears. If you’re afraid of losing your mate do you start to become over protective and jealous? The more you fear it the more you protect it and the sooner you may achieve it.
  • Old Age – Age is a mindset, but also physical. I don’t think you need to fear old age, you just need to prepare yourself for it, physically, mentally and financially. Mainly physically, if you focus on that, the other two will follow.
  • Death – Why fear it, it’s going to come. I believe that the only time you need to fear death is if you fear the other side (if you believe in that). I believe that as long as you live by the Golden Rule you shouldn’t have too much to worry about. When your purpose has been served then it may be your time to go, I just plan on finding new purposes.

When I look at the list I think the leading fear is the fear of criticism. Who wanted to pursue their true passion but never made it public because they feared criticism?

Here’s the cycle of despair that starts with the fear of criticism. If you’re afraid of pursuing your dreams due to being criticized you’ll be stressed out which will cause ill health leading to the loss of love due to being on the edge and unhappy because you won’t be living your true passion. After you loss someone you love you are lead into poverty because of alimony and child support. The stress, loss of love and ill health will lead you to old age quicker and death before your peers.

How can some people be able to do something and others can’t, they’ve learned how to turn fear into excitement. Think about it, you can control your fear and it can be your biggest teacher. One of the keys is to understand how fear happens.

The three brain components that involves processing fear is the brain stem, amygdala and neocortex.

The first part, and the oldest, is the brain stem, otherwise known as the reptilian brain. The brainstem coordinates motor control signals sent from the brain to the body. The brainstem also controls life supporting autonomic functions. The brain stem doesn’t generate emotions and its primary function is to survive.

The amygdala part of the brain isn’t very large, but it can control your life without you even knowing it. It controls many of our emotions and motivations, particularly those that are related to survival. The amygdala is involved in the processing of emotions such as fear, anger and pleasure. It acts like a hard drive for your experiences and controls your emotions and fight or flight instincts. It produces the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which causes physical reactions to fear.

The key to overcoming fear is to recognize those symptoms, the neocortex portion of the brain gives us the ability to do that and is only found in mammals and in humans accounts for about 76% of the brain’s volume. The neocortex consists of grey matter surrounding the deeper white matter of the cerebrum cortex and is involved in higher functions such as sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and in humans, language.

Once you recognize the symptoms of fear you can take control of them and that’s where the neocortex comes in handy. Stop the fear by asking yourself why you’re acting the way you are. Why are you getting angry, sweating, and breathing hard? It could stem from you doubting your own abilities. Stop and take your pulse, breathe deeply, and say, “Isn’t it interesting that my body is reacting like this?”

Treat fear not as an enemy but as a signal to bring you awareness. Once you start to evaluate why your physical reactions to fear is happening you learn to control the fear and turn it into excitement.

Doesn’t sky diving, roller coasters and sharing your knowledge to large groups of people sound exciting?

When you take doubt and worry from fear, does the emotion turn into excitement?

What do you fear?

Face it today to start living your life to the fullest.

If you overcame one of you fears, please share how you did it.