“The day I stop learning is the day I die”. Dorothy Brimble
My grandmother told me this when I was just 14 years old. No idea what we were talking about at the time, but she was a lady that taught herself a new word from the dictionary regularly through her life, did crosswords, hand wrote out music just to keep her hands working well and because she loved the way the notes played on the bar lines and the curves of the treble and bass clefs, played multiple instruments, wrote stories and spent a lot of time in the garden. She and I were either in her dining room where the piano and other instruments were, or out in the garden together often. I loved staying at her place during school holidays, and, as I was the oldest grandchild, I got to stay with her long before the others did. She taught me much and my love of music and gardening, oh and writing, surely come from the many hours I spent with her and learning from her. I loved her very much.
I applied myself growing up, reading much, learning anything that interested me and always learning new things. Guess that’s why I took to the Internet quickly in 1996 when it became available here for the business and changed the way I did business with clients and showed hundreds, thousands actually, how they could also do business this way.
Somewhere along the line I became happy with the status quo, servicing my own clients, bringing on board new VAs and training some of them and teaching new clients about how to do business via the internet. I stopped reading as many books and I also became complacent about my own health and well being. Late last year I discovered I was the heaviest I’d ever been in my life, despite my doctor telling me 2 or 3 years ago I needed to get more exercise. I was walking regularly thinking that would solve things, but it didn’t. I needed to do more. And I was catching colds, flu, whatever was doing the rounds. I thought I was safe at home not mixing with the general public, but that wasn’t the case at all.
Early this year my youngest daughter invited me to join her on a 4 week transformation program at a local gym. I agreed and sat in their introductory meeting and realised, with a shock, I knew nothing about healthy diets, or what is a carbohydrate, that there are actually good fats, and so on. After just 4 weeks at the gym, 3 days a week, I began losing weight and eating much better and maintained that for a couple of months and then plateaued. The same daughter then introduced me to her new health program and business and I recognised I needed to do more. I joined her in that and now partake of healthy fruit & vegetable capsules, as well as having access to over 200 fantastic recipes cooking with fruits and vegetables (some of which we’ve grown here at home). Very little processed foods these days – I make it all from scratch. I have discovered I can still have my chocolate (and cake) and eat it too – they’re just prepared in different ways with far more nutritious and healthy ingredients and I’m continuing to lose weight and feeling far more energetic and healthy than I have in a long, long time. As virtual assistants work at home and are in front of a computer for many hours, it is important we look after ourselves and our bodies.
Taking it a step further I’ve begun listening in on the training programs and you know what? Some of the things they share via the health program I learnt years ago (through Amway) and had forgotten, or just not paid attention to. And I’m learning new things too – things that excite me and that I can apply to my own VA business as well. Last night they shared an excellent short video called Retrain Your Mind and I think it’s a valuable one for you all to sit and watch and listen to as well.
Late last year I left BNI (shock, horror!) after 15 years of membership. I felt I wasn’t learning anything new any more and it was just the same old, same old. For a long, long time I got a lot out of BNI and met some fantastic people, some of whom still provide me with services today (IT support, accounting, bookkeeping, printing, etc) and still have many clients I was referred to during that time. And if you’re considering joining I highly recommend you do. Remember, I was a member for 15 years so you will get a lot out of it. But my own personal learning had come to a standstill and so I moved on. I joined the local Rotary Club and have become actively involved there, meeting new people and giving back to community using the skill sets I’ve developed over the past 23 years, but still seeking to find another avenue where I can, once again, increase my learning. I believe I’ve found that through another fairly new group of business owners meeting together monthly. Early days yet but the two meetings I’ve attended have been really worthwhile and my mind, once again, is racing with ideas. Hopefully I can bring them to fruition over time.
While I do belong to several online groups for various things (business, hobbies, etc) and learn things from members there, I’m finding I really need to get back into reading and listening too.
So with the health and nutrition program and their teachings, and also the new business group I’ve joined, I feel like I’m getting back on track again and taking notice of those words my grandmother shared with me so long ago. The day I stop learning is the day I die. We can apply that to our businesses too – or anything in our lives. Important to keep learning to move forward. It’s why it’s important we should be networking, both online and offline, listening to others, sharing ideas, mixing and mingling and remaining visibly active.
What about you? Are you actively reading and learning or do you need to get back into it too?
Kathie is the owner of VA Directory and is former past President of the Australian VA Association. She founded the Virtual Assistant industry in Australia in the mid 90s, having already been operating a home-based secretarial service. Today the VA industry covers a multitude of office-based services for clients worldwide.