Think of a time you learned something without really thinking about it or forcing yourself to learn it. You probably just did it without really worrying about it. That’s how many of us learn our native languages as children. Sure, your parents may have been disciplined enough to sit down with you to teach you new words each day, but from your perspective it was natural. You weren’t worried about the consequences of not learning how to speak – you just did it without thinking twice.
As an adult learning isn’t always that easy, so we often force ourselves to learn new skills. That approach is better than not even trying to learn new skills, but natural learning is more fun and enables us to learn so much faster.
Natural learning is when you’re not really cognizant of the fact that you’re learning. It’s like playing a video game; you’re doing it for fun and learning is secondary. You learn how to play the game in order to have fun. Learning new skills won’t always necessarily lead to fun, but the majority of our skills will lead to some kind of reward whether it’s a higher paycheck, helping your community, becoming a doctor and saving lives, or changing the world.
The challenge is to obviously turn forced learning into natural learning. An important first step for me has been to integrate learning into my environment. Rather than turning the spare bedroom into an arcade, it’s an office. The arcade would be sweet, but in the long run the office will lead to much higher rewards. Doing work and studying in my office is just a part of my day. I don’t think twice about it because that’s where I need to go to make sure I’m taking care of my business, the bills, and learning.
I’ll admit, learning new skills still needs to be forced from time to time. It helps get me started. But once I get started, it just becomes a part of my day. Having a clear purpose in mind also helps me keep going. I need to know why I’m learning a new skill. Once I determine why I want to learn a skill, I do my best to make it happen naturally. It’s been helping me with my business tremendously.
Many people want their businesses to become very popular and make them rich. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I’ve noticed that so many popular businesses don’t have substance or a personal relationship with their customers. Though I run a few microbusinesses that aren’t nationally or internationally known, I still experience so much meaning with my work each week. I work one on one and in small groups with my clients, and my wife also helps run the businesses.
On our walk this morning, we discussed how important it is for us to maintain businesses with substance. We want our businesses to be important to people, we want to have close relationships with our clients, and we want to improve their lives. We’ve both noticed that it’s easier to do this at the microbusiness level. As we grow, it will be one of our top priorities to maintain this value. We will separate our employees into small groups and in different office locations in order meet our goal.
Popularity and financial success are both nice, but those achievements are much sweeter when you keep your values and substance a primary objective. It’s like a lame pop band that’s popular for a few years versus the band who accomplishes popularity by staying true to their art. Bands like Wilco and Radiohead are excellent examples of musicians who stayed true to themselves. Staying true to yourself might not always make you rich, but you will be happy. The goal is to acquire depth, financial success, and your other most important goals.
If you make it big in business with a product or service that has no substance for you personally, you can still experience depth with your business. You can support charities with your business, and you can educate people about business with your success. There are many ways for you to create more meaning in your life. My wife told me Bill Gates was depressed for awhile before he started his charities. Money and popularity are sometimes apart of the puzzle, but that doesn’t mean they are the most important parts. Go add value.
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Thinking of fresh ideas becomes much easier when you’re reading and learning every day. When I was writing my book, I spent a large portion of my day reading. Since I learned how to speed read in college, I read plenty of material when I was doing research for Make Money with a Microbusiness.
I had my wedding on May 25, 2013, so during the month of May I prioritized helping my wife with our wedding. This cut into my reading time, and I’ve recognized that ideas for new business approaches aren’t coming as effortlessly. At the same time, taking a break has also been helpful. It’s as if I needed a short amount of time off from the high volume of reading to digest what I learned.
Taking a short break from reading is helpful as long as it’s not too long of a break. One month off is more than enough time to digest what you have learned. I was doing a high volume of reading from February 2012 to April 2013. Taking time to reflect on what I’ve learned has been beneficial, but now I’m noticing that I need more fresh ideas.
It’s important to take action on what you learn. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory.” Many of you business owners out there don’t make much time to read because you’re busy taking action. That’s better than never taking action while spending the majority of your time reading. But a small percentage of your day dedicated to reading 20 pages or learning something new will help you take smarter actions.