What do you think of when you hear the word “education”?
Odds are, if you’re like most ambitious professionals, you immediately think “certifications.”
Now don’t get me wrong: certifications are important, and in a moment I’ll talk more about how to choose the correct one.
Still, I want you to understand that education includes quite a lot more than just certifications. It includes the books you read, the methods you test out yourself, and even your social circle.
In fact, I’m even tempted to say that education is an entire lifestyle – it’s an ongoing process of staying curious and always looking for ways to improve yourself and your business.
So let’s talk about your education. I want to make sure you’re getting the right education so you can reach the greatest possible success in your business.
Getting the Right Certification
…is actually incredibly simple.
In fact, the only real tip I have for choosing certifications is this:
Seek knowledge, not status.
Let me break that down for you: you’ve probably seen or heard about tons of different certification programs that sound really flashy and important. You’ve probably debated how much extra money you should throw down for a “prestigious” or “celebrity” program, or even worried that the program you’ve already picked is “not cool enough.”
Go ahead and set all that worry aside, because I can promise you that most certifications will have about the same effect on your career: they’ll give you some better knowledge for how to do your work and build your business, but they will not directly affect your income.
So, if you ever genuinely feel like you don’t have enough knowledge to deliver great work, then go ahead and look into a certification. Pick any one of them that covers your areas of interest and doesn’t seem too sketchy. That’s what they are there for.
Just remember that your present and future clients care ONLY about the results you can give them.
Sure, flashing a certification logo might reassure the occasional prospect who pays attention to detail, but the grand majority of people will judge you only by your testimonials, your referrals, and their personal experience with your work. That’s it.
By the way, this also means that you don’t need a huge long list of certifications. Heck, if you supplement it with your own research and learn by doing, you can probably get away with just one.
If I seem lukewarm about certifications, it’s only because I’m way more enthusiastic about books. I know my own career really took off when I started seriously absorbing books. Paper books, audio books, PDFs – I’ll take books in any form I can find them.
I spend at least an hour every day reading, and I hope you are doing the same thing.
Granted, I do make sure that I’m reading useful books…but the funny thing is, “useful” can include a lot of different things over the course of your career.
I’ve actually done quite a lot of reading on human psychology and storytelling to round out my marketing skills. Ever heard of a book called The Hero With a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell?
Maybe not…but that one is practically a holy book for scholars and artists all around the world. It talks about how all the different mythologies on planet Earth are telling the same basic story, because they’re all trying to address the same set of primal human needs.
It’s a fascinating read, but more importantly it has helped me get a real sense of the stories people WANT to hear, which gives me enormous leverage as a marketer.
Now just to be clear: I’m not saying you should lose your focus here. I’m saying you should keep an open mind. It’s totally possible to have both.
I’ll explain a bit more later about how to choose your books, but first…
Execute, Execute, Execute
Your education is only as good as what you put into practice.
You don’t want to become one of those people whose heads are full of useless knowledge…AKA people who do not USE the knowledge they have!
Because at the end of the day, life is dynamic. The advice you get from your education might be outdated, or wrong, or not applicable to your situation.
But the only way – THE ABSOLUTE ONLY WAY – you can sort the good advice from the bad advice is to put all of it into action as fast as humanly possible. That way you’ll figure out for certain what works and what doesn’t.
Sitting on your hands and daydreaming about what might or might not work is a terrible waste of time. Execute. Execute fast. Get your failures out of the way sooner so you can get to your successes and still have time to enjoy them.
And this is especially true for those of you special snowflakes who think your business is “different” and think that the advice of experts doesn’t apply to you. Oh yeah, you know who you are.
Think “gurus” like me are full of hot air? Think you’re so special and smart that you’re going to revolutionize the fitness industry without any help from anyone? Awesome. Put my advice into action and prove me wrong.
Although you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.
Your Social Circle
The people you surround yourself with are a crucial part of your education.
I’m including mentors in this section because I think the word “mentor” implies a lot more than just a teacher or an expert. A mentor is someone who knows you and your business on a deep personal level and can inject the exact advice you need at the exact moment you need it.
A good mentor is tough to find…but when you find one, they are worth every penny (and every second of your time).
Still, your friends and peers are crucially important too. They’re important because they naturally help shape your daily habits and your personality. Yet, they can also be your greatest sources of information.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve discovered a mind-blowing new technique to grow my business just by chatting at lunch with my buddies. Of course, these moments are only possible because I make sure to hang out with the best and brightest in my industry, like Craig Ballantyne.
What to Study
All right, let’s dive into the one big question we’ve been building towards this whole time:
“How do I know what knowledge I need first?”
The answer: whatever knowledge will allow you to give your clients a better experience.
Your goal, if you want to create a massively successful, scalable business, is to ALWAYS be delivering your clients a great experience – and always be improving that experience to stay ahead of their expectations.
So whenever you stop to plan out your education, whether you’re looking through certification options, book shopping, or considering which mentor to get in touch with, make sure you are always working backward from the client’s experience.
Committed to your success,