The Green Sheet Online Edition
November 09, 2009 • Issue 09:11:01
Twenty tips for lifelong learning
Staying on top of your game as an ISO or merchant level salesperson (MLS) in the ever changing payments industry requires continual learning. New POS systems, encryption technology, e-commerce gateways, wireless terminals, the possibilities of cloud computing - all of these can both dazzle and daunt in equal measure.
And the learning required to break into new verticals, while necessary, can seem to require too much effort, especially if you have a portfolio of merchants in an industry you already know inside out. Then there's the need to be aware of current events, popular culture and the general inclinations of diverse demographic groups.
All of this takes a commitment to lifelong learning. So, here are 20 tips to boost your progress in this most important area:
- Reflect upon past learning experiences. This will provide insight regarding what types of environments worked best for you. It will also give you the chance to discard limiting conclusions you may have drawn about your potential as a learner.
- Find a learning partner or mentor with whom you can check in at predetermined intervals to discuss how you are progressing, strategize about your learning needs and set goals.
- Begin every learning session with your end goal in mind, and appreciate what you're accomplishing along the way.
- Concentrate on what you have chosen to master. Don't compare your gains to others; compete only with yourself.
- Come up with an affirmation to keep in your work area. It should be short and reinforce the notion that you are a capable learner. For example, I am a confident learner who is an excellent resource for my merchant customers.
- Be willing to make mistakes; you can learn from them and move on.
- Acquire information in manageable chunks. Stop a learning session before you reach a saturation point, perhaps by giving yourself a set amount of time and sticking to it.
- Approach new technologies as fun toys rather than eye them with trepidation.
- Limit distractions. Turn off the television. Let voicemail take care of the phone. Don't peek at incoming text messages. Friends and clients will still be there when your learning session is done and what you accomplish during this time will increase your ability to be of use to them.
- Attend tradeshows whenever possible. You will be able to select from a number of timely seminars, be exposed to the latest developments on the exhibit halls and have stimulating conversations with your peers.
- Do something completely out of your ordinary realm at least once a month. If you've never been to an opera, for instance, attend one. Not really taken with Nascar? Go to a race; see for yourself what all the excitement is about. Feel like you're a bit uncoordinated? Take a ballroom dancing class.
- If you get discouraged, remind yourself you will succeed by persisting.
- If you're in a seminar or class, take notes in the packets provided or in your own notebook. This also helps reinforce learning.
- If you take a class that assigns homework, do it.
- At the beginning of each new learning session or class, review what you learned in your last session so it's easier to build on what you've just learned.
- If you're taking a hands-on workshop, repeat everything you did in class at home or at the office as soon as you can afterwards. This helps reinforce new skills.
- Ask questions. The more you interact with your teachers and fellow learners, the quicker you will master the subject at hand.
- Relax. Learn how to meditate, take a yoga class, get a massage every now and then or listen to beautiful music. It is easier to absorb information when you are in an open, relaxed state of mind.
- Teach your new skills to others. It reinforces your own learning, helps you identify your weak areas and contributes to the welfare of another person.
- Eat nutritious foods, get sufficient rest and take breaks during your work day. That way you'll be ready to tackle any project you take on, whether it's learning how to troubleshoot a malfunctioning terminal or attending a conversational Spanish class.
Go ahead; follow these suggestions. You have tremendous potential to learn what you need to thrive as an ISO or MLS while also enriching your own life and the lives of those around you with the wisdom you will gain from becoming an eager, lifelong learner.
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