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IRON RULES OF MANAGEMENT Iron Rule #4: Successful managers may not always have a formal education, but they always continue learning.

Okay, let's get this up front. I don't think much of people who don't think much of themselves. And people who don't spend any time improving themselves

IRON RULES OF MANAGEMENTIron Rule #4: Successful managers may not always have a formal education, but they always continue learning.

Jan 20, 2001 12:00 PM,
By Ron Davis
Davis is chairman of Security Associates, Arlington Heights, IL, a training, consulting

Okay, let’s get this up front. I don’t think much of people who don’t think much of themselves. And people who don’t spend any time improving themselves are people who don’t have much faith in themselves. Now if you can follow that kind of convoluted thinking, then you can understand that I also feel, by extension, that successful people are always continuing the educational process.

Successful managers always continue to learn and to grow in the work that they’re doing. They do this in a number of ways: They go to seminars, buy books, listen to cassette programs, read trade publications, and try to discover what other successful people in their profession are doing. What we’re talking about here is not a formal education; some of the most successful people I know don’t have a bachelor’s, a master’s or anything even closely resembling a degree, but they have continued to learn. And sometimes the learning you do on your own is far greater and more intense than what you had in school.

Some years ago, I did a project for W. Clement Stone who at the time was considered one of the wealthiest and most influential people in America. He was owner or chairman of several corporations and was the publisher of Success Magazine, a publication still available today. At the time, the magazine was called Success Unlimited, and its editor was the author, Og Mandino. I had the extraordinary pleasure, even privilege, of working with both Mandino and Stone in the development of a project that many people, even today, have benefited from.

In the late 1970s, as a special assignment for Stone, I developed the concept of PMA (positive mental attitude) Rallies, a concept still very much in use today. At the time, it was an original, and the concept was unique to Mandino, Stone and the magazine: Bring positive mental attitude to large numbers of people in a rally-like setting, and people will love it. And they did, by the tens of thousands all over the United States and in many foreign countries.

During this time, I became very familiar with some of the works of Stone and his former business partner and mentor, Napoleon Hill. Stone had developed a concept that he referred to as his R2A2 for success. The formula allowed students to recognize, relate, assimilate and act on ideas that are helpful in either their business, personal life or spiritual life. From a business perspective, what this means is you can literally write your own book and continue your own educational process by doing so.

Now here’s the single greatest practical idea I’ve ever discovered. And what a discovery it is! Here it is: Read any book, listen to any cassette program or cassette, or read any publication that has something to do with the work that you do, the job you do or the company with which you work. Read or listen for no more than 15 minutes or until you have come across the first idea that will enable you to do better in the work you do.

Take a piece of paper, divide it into four parts, and write down the idea. Keep it under two sentences. Then in the second section, relate the idea to your work. If it is a general principle, get specific, and put it down in black and white as it relates to your business. The next part of the form should allow you to assimilate it into your thinking. What does this mean to you? How does it work? What will the benefit be? When can you start working on this? Then the last part of the page should be the action step that allows you to spell out how, when and where you’re going to act on the idea, and, of course, the results you’re going to achieve.

Sound simple? You bet. The R2A2 formula is practiced to some degree or other by every successful person I have ever known. Luck doesn’t happen by random chance. It happens because you’ve prepared for it.

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