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Learning new things can be uncomfortable. Becoming truly great at something requires practice. None of us (that I know of) are born able to speak or walk, but as children, we all practiced and practiced until we mastered it. Now I realize we don’t have the kind of free time we had available as when we were kids, but what if we just spent 10 minutes a day practicing a new skill? We’d have over 60 hours a year of practicing towards learning something new. What could we achieve then?

Dealing with customers all day long can be wearing. What are the skills that, if we practiced, would make our jobs easier and more enjoyable?

  • Exceptional listening skills?
  • Asking better questions?
  • Dealing with difficult customers?
  • De-escalating emotional situations?
  • Improving internal communication with other departments?

Even becoming more patient is a skill that takes practice. Pinpointing the skills we need to learn and practicing those skills can take us to the next level of our jobs, and our lives. The problem is, do our good intentions of putting those skills into practice often remain just that… good intentions?

At Sandler, our training is based on a reinforcement model. We do this so professionals are able to take skills from knowing to owning – it’s one thing to understand a concept, it’s another to put it into action and implement it on a regular basis. It’s about behavior modification. If you want to lose 20 pounds, will going to one intensive boot camp at the gym get you to your goal? No – to achieve that goal you need to go every day and follow a process. The key is to get yourself there on a regular basis.

So how do we set aside the 10 minutes a day to better ourselves when our days can be unpredictable? We never know when a customer will have an emergency or when something will come up that we have to attend to immediately. The key is to make it a priority – just like getting ourselves to the gym. Put it in your calendar as a non-negotiable. You want to get healthy – you make the gym a priority. You want to better yourself in your career – you make it a priority.

Set an unmovable meeting with yourself that means everything else will have to wait. Share your personal development schedule with your manager and your co-workers – they will know that 10 minutes is set aside for you to focus on your skills development. Stay accountable to yourself, and know that at the end of the day, this time you protect not only benefits you, but also your customers, your coworkers and your company.

Change is never easy, but have a process and schedule, and the commitment to change, can get you there.

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