Lifelong Learning Equals Success
by Joe Bonura, CSP
I Still Cannot Play
Many years ago, I wanted to learn to play the piano. The piano
teacher came to the house for my lessons, but when he returned the
next week, he saw no progress. I did not take the time to practice
my lessons, and so, each week, the same poor results were apparent.
The exasperated teacher stated that I did not really want to play
the piano, and I replied, "Yes, I do, but I just do not like
to practice." He refused to give me lessons if I was not going
to practice each week, and consequently, I still can not play the
The Easy Way
I wanted to play, but I was not willing to put forth the effort;
I wanted the easy way. I wanted to learn by osmosis. Similarly,
life does not work that way. No matter what your aspirations are,
you must put forth the effort. There is an expression, "When
the student is ready, the teacher will come." However, if the
student is not ready, ten teachers may come, and the result will
never be positive.
There are many talented people with skills that they will never
see come to fruition because they have never expanded on their God-given
talents. Their minds are closed to learning new ideas and techniques,
and their careers are frozen in today's ideas and yesterday's knowledge.
They truly believe that they already know everything they need to
know. Their book of life is closed -- never to be opened again.
They have already travelled as far as they will go, never experiencing
the cornucopia of experiences that life has waiting for them, and
never finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. They have
the talent, but they do not have the drive. When exposed to a road
map, they fold it up and continue to drive in circles, getting nowhere
near their potential destination.
The Good Life
They can see themselves playing a grand piano at Carnegie Hall
in New York City, but they stubbornly refuse to see themselves practicing
eight hours a day for ten years. There is a price to pay for all
good things that come to us. Many want the good life, but are they
willing to pay the price in their daily actions? Perhaps, their
credo is, "I want, I want, I want," but in actuality,
they say, "I will not, I will not, I will not do what is necessary
to get what I want.
It Is All In The Fundamentals
The great cellist Yo Yo Ma was asked by a young music student to
teach her to be as creative as he is on the cello. He advised her
to learn the fundamentals so well that she did not have to think
about them, and then she could be creative. It takes years to learn
Day In And Day Out
Incredible trumpeter Chris Botti stated that his trumpet teacher
at Purdue University had him practice the scales every day, day
in and day out, until he was able to do them in his sleep. He said
it was a boring routine, but he is reaping the benefits today because
of those endless hours of practice.
Are You Comfortable?
You have heard the expression, "Practice makes perfect."
The truth is, "Perfect practice makes perfect," and it
takes years of perfect practice to get to the point where you are
comfortable with your performance. If you do not know how to practice,
learn from someone who does know, read books, listen to CD's, and
attend seminars. We live in a high-tech world where information
is obtained easily and quickly. Come out of your comfort zone, and
dig in, if you want to dig your way out of the rut that you are
No Accolades For Failure
An ambitious young writer asked Ernest Hemingway for his formula
for writing success. And Hemingways reply? To write, and write,
and write, and write! Most aspiring writers want to be Hemingways,
but they do not want to do the writing part every day. It is tedious,
and there are no accolades to keep them motivated. We see the performer
after he or she has achieved greatness; however, we do not see the
years of effort and preparation that went into their career to make
it look effortless.
Make It Look Easy
One of the unique things that I employ as a sales trainer is do
field work with my clients. I do not observe the sales call; I actually
make the call. I often get the comment, "You make it look so
easy." It looks easy because I have been practicing every day
for many years. A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first
step, and today is the day to take that step, and someday, someone
may say to you that you make it look so easy. It has taken me years
of study, success, and failure to learn my trade. I love to sell
(serve people), and that is why I endeavor to succeed in sales.
My goal is to learn and apply at least one new thing each day.
Some Just Do Not Get It
I have trained thousands of sales people over the last 20 years.
After one such training seminar, a man told me that while he enjoyed
my presentation, he had been in the business 30 years, and he really
did not learn anything new. I thanked him for his input and continued
packing my materials for my journey home. A few minutes later, another
gentleman, bubbling with enthusiasm, related that he had been in
the business over 35 years, and this was the best learning experience
he had ever had.
The Chopping Block
I sought the client who engaged me for the seminar to rate the
performance of the two people who made the comments. The vice president
of sales told me that the first man had been with their company
for five years and was their lowest producer and would probably
be on the chopping block. The second gentleman who made a comment
was his number one sales producer.
The Best Go From Good To Great
Why is it that those who need the most help, do not see the need,
and those, who are at the top of their game, are open-minded and
ready to move to the next level? For fifteen years, I have been
following the career of a salesman in my trainings, Lincoln Baker.
Lincoln was the top producer for a large insurance company, and
every time he attended my sales sessions, he wrote a note to me
that my sales suggestions would make him an additional $20,000 for
the year. As good as Lincoln is, he is always open to becoming better;
he attends sales training with an open mind, knowing that one good
idea can make a big difference in his performance. Today he has
his own insurance agency, and will undoubtedly be one of the top
brokers in California in the coming years.
Words Of Wisdom
I love clichés because of the element of truth in all of
them. One of my favorites is, "You can lead a horse to water,
but you can not make him drink." I invest over $4,000+ a year
in my personal self-development, and I believe in the cliche, "When
you are ripe, you rot -- you should be green and growing."
I have been blessed to have this philosophy since I first entered
the business world. When I was 20 years old, I was terrified of
public speaking, so I invested $300 in a public speaking course,
when I was earning only $325 a month. Because I was willing to invest
one month's income to conquer my fear and to learn something new,
today I speak confidently to thousands of people every year. Was
the $300 investment worth it? I also invested in an education in
the advertising business that resulted in ownership of one of the
largest advertising agencies in Kentucky. An investment in your
personal development will result in massive benefits.
The Keyboard Of Life
Are you willing to pay the price? Are you willing to sit at life's
keyboard and practice? Are you willing to learn more, even though
you think you know all there is to know? Are you willing to try
new things? Are you willing to be open-minded about new ideas to
become the person you are meant to be? Are you willing to be patient
in the knowledge that the right actions, taken on a consistent basis,
will lead to consistent success? The key phrase here is, "Are
If you answered yes, consider yourself in an elite group of people
who will always be at the top of their game. It will not be easy,
but the results that you experience will be more than worth the
effort. When you sit down at the piano, the Carnegie Hall of your
life, the audience will be awed by your performance -- and so will
© 2011 Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.