What's the most important trait for entrepreneurial success? You might guess comfort with risk, but that's actually less central than many people believe. How about creativity? Certainly useful, but according to expert after expert, one skill is even more fundamental--the ability to continuously learn and adapt.
Recently on the Unreasonable Institute blog, Nathaniel Koloc, co-founder and CEO of recruiting firm ReWork, agreed with the chorus of voices stressing lifelong self-improvement. As part of a series of posts offering college students advice on "what they should be doing in order to set themselves up for a career in social innovation, entrepreneurship, or simply doing something that they love," he explains that "professional success ultimately has to do with how much you help other people."
The better you get at providing value to others, the more successful you'll be, he argues, concluding that "therefore, it pays to learn not just how to be valuable in a given context, but how to get more and more valuable over time. You should develop a habit of looking for ways to develop yourself--to push yourself, learn new skills, and inquire about ways you can improve."
Sounds sensible not just for college students but also for anyone looking to do better and more meaningful work. What specific tips will help you develop the right mindset for continuous improvement? Koloc offers these three tips:
1. Schedule self-improvement
"Create time each week (maybe two hours), each month (maybe one to day days), and each year (ideally at least one long weekend) to set aside to think about how you're improving," Koloc suggests. "For example, I sit in a park near my house every Sunday morning and drink a coffee and reflect on how I'm doing overall, and where I need to improve next." You can change the location, timing, or beverage, but make sure you have some time set aside to slow down and reflect.
2. Get in the feedback habit
Self-reflection about possible areas of improvement is great, but to keep growing you'll also need plenty of input and advice from others. "Develop a pattern of asking your boss and co-workers how you can improve yourself and be more valuable to the team. Your options include learning new things, improving key skills, adding new skills, learning how to use new software/tools, expanding your network, or polishing up your habits--usually a mix of the above," explains Koloc.
3. Enlist your customers
If you're further along in your career path and have actual customers, don't forget that they're incredible resources for self-improvement, too. View their complaints and suggestions as a goldmine. "Make sure to incorporate lots of feedback loops for your customers to tell you how to improve your offering," Koloc reminds owners.
Curious? Check out other posts in Koloc's series.