It’s has become cliché to say that you need to be a lifelong learner. You’ve already probably heard the benefits of reading at least one book a month. So, there is no need to talk about extending knowledge in our current profession.

What we are going to talk about is the need to flex the learning muscle constantly. Simply consuming one book after another does not actually flex the learning muscle. It simply fills your head with useless information.

Your success as a subscription maker is determined by your willingness to do the work. And your ability to identify and assimilate new knowledge. For the record, identifying new sources of knowledge is a competitive advantage and can be a full-time job.

The one constant in life is change. Some of that change will happen to you through no fault of your own. Hopefully, a greater part of that change will happen because you initiated it. Either, way you need to flex your learning muscle constantly.

How should you initiate change?

The first way to initiate change is by listening to your fanbase. Ask them to identify the trends that they see in their daily lives. Listen for subtle shifts in routine conversations. You’ll know that change is in the air when people stop complaining about a given task.

The second way to initiate change is by interacting with your weak connectors. As you know, weak connectors are people you know but don’t engage with on a regular interval. Imagine the people that you connected with on LinkedIn many years ago and hadn’t talked with since.

The third way to initiate change is by searching on the fringe of your strategic network. These are people that no else in your network will listen to because they are too out there. Generally, we are not talking about conspiracy theorists. However, we have to be willing to walk right up to that line.

Everything happens first to the people on the fringes of your network. Some sociologists suggest this is because they are the least protected. The feel the brunt of societal change in full force. The rest of society will get there eventually. So by listening to them, you have to come up with a game plan.

What about the transition time?

Contrary to popular belief change is not like a light switch. You can’t just decide to change, and it happens. Change takes time. A lot of very serious people think they are changing when they are continuing the activities that necessitated the change.

In general, the best way to ensure that you achieve the changes you desire is by doing them in stages. You map out the behaviors you want to change, and you put together a plan to practice those behaviors. Assuming you’ve got time to flex your learning muscles, your plan can proceed at a leisurely pace. If not your plan can be used to prioritize what comes next.

Word of warning, never underestimate the importance of the transition period or transition planning. People need time to grieve when it’s time to change especially if the need to change was not voluntary. More change efforts have failed because the transition period was mishandled than any other reason. If you get the transition right, you can fix other problems.

Zachary Alexander