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  • Dr. Eric Rooker

March 2022 Countdown to Success: On learning new skills 5-4-3-2-1 Countdown to Success: On learning

Updated: Feb 23, 2023

5 Inputs, 4 Quotes, 3 Thoughts, 2 Challenges and 1 Question (March 10th, 2022)

“Helping you achieve high-performance medicine.”

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Happy March,

Your journey of professional development is important to me. Please hit that reply button or join our Facebook Group [] to share your journey and inspiration with our community.

You never know when your ideas, stories, actions, or reflections will inspire another vet out there!

Alright, let’s get to it!

Here are 5 Inputs to Inspire, 4 Quotes to Contemplate, 3 Thoughts to Ponder, 2 Challenges to Conquer, and 1 Reflection Question to help you grow this month.

5 Inputs to Inspire

I. One of my recent favorite books has been The First 20 Hours by Josh Kaufman. An interesting contrast to the Outliers book I will discuss later; Kaufman discusses the difference between learning a skill to an applicable level vs mastery an how it is the key to creating a virtuous cycle of continuous learning. In this book you will find a simple step-by-step method for skill acquisition, something that I was able to implement even before finishing the book.

II. HBR has a great summary of how learning new skills are not just about creating a new service or new area of expertise. It serves a much bigger function; to improve cognitive function, specifically by reducing stress. Learning new skills reduces the negative thoughts that can build on us during times of stress. So next time you’ve had a hard day, rather than reaching for the cold brew consider picking up that guitar you’ve been putting off!

III. Looking to learn a new skill but don’t know where to start? Then you’ll want to check out Udemy. There are many course-based websites out there but Udemy is one I keep coming back to when I’m looking to learn the basic outlay of a skill. For an average cost of $35 dollars, these courses can help set the foundation for understanding what you need to learn, where you can find it and the basic skills you need to begin to master for this new pursuit.

IV. If we’ve piqued your interest in new skills but you’re still struggling to ID what to learn then go checkout Develop Good Habits for a comprehensive list of skills and resources to learn from. I love this link because it gives a skill, a brief explanation of the interesting things you can do with it and an external (affiliate-based) link to get you started.

V. Malcom Gladwell’s, Outliers, is a timeless peek into what it takes to become the best at something. His now famous, though misinterpreted, 10,000 hours to mastery quote is known by pretty much everyone seeking to develop personally or professionally. However, looking beyond this mis-cited factoid, there are many golden nuggets here for the individual looking to polish an already known skill.

4 Quotes to Contemplate

I. Jim Rohn, whom many consider one of the founding fathers of personal development, on the importance of self-education even after formal education concludes:

Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune. Life wants you to win, but you must get out of your own way.

II. Author and speaker Marie Forleo on the impact each skill can have on your career:

Eventually we weave innumerable skills, experiences and ideas into multilayered, multifaceted, one-of-a-kind career tapestry.

III. Josh Kaufman, author of The First 20 Hours, on the importance of focusing your skill acquisition on one skill at a time:

It’s a matter of simple math: acquiring new skills requires a critical mass of concentrated time and focused attention. If you only have an hour or two each day to devote to practice and learning and you spread that time and energy across twenty different skills, no individual skills is going to receive enough time and energy to generate noticeable improvement.

IV. Scholar Ronald Osborne discusses how growth is dependent upon continued mastery in new areas:

Unless you do something beyond what you’ve already mastered, you will never grow.

3 Thoughts to Ponder

I. Our careers are a unique opportunity to express ourselves. While veterinary medicine has classic definitions of what a vet is, there are a million different combinations of medicine and personal skill you can acquire. Want to be a DVM that’s a chiropractor, that’s possible. Want to be a DVM on a TV show, that’s possible. Want to travel the world practicing medicine, that’s possible. Want to manage a team of people, that’s possible. Stop fitting the model and start defining YOUR own medicine.

II. Every skill you learn gives you a new tool, a new mastery. Maybe you take on powerlifting and now you redefine the proper way to move animals at your clinic. Maybe you take on needlepoint and improve your dexterity and surgical skills by proxy. Maybe you lean into motivational psychology and revolutionize communication at your practice. These skills do not need to be veterinary-related to cause beneficial “collateral development” within your career.

III. At some point veterinary medicine will become boring or mundane. That point might last 5 minutes or 5 years for you. Having a roster of outside skills you wish to learn means you will have the means to continue to push your mind, manage your stress and focus on yourself during these hard times. I believe it is these outside skills that can be the first line of defense against burnout from medical repetition.

2 Challenges to Conquer

I. Challenge #1 is simple; pick a new skill and track your time doing it. Commit to 20 hours of skill development. This time can include researching the skill, acquiring the tools and then actually doing the skill. The difficulty of the skill doesn’t matter; instead, focus on the act of DOING the learning and development which will develop your competency.

II. Challenge #2 builds your sense of community and relatedness. Share your new skill journey on social media and with your clinic. Share what you learn as well as the challenges and successes you have. You will be surprised who is interested in your journey and who you can positively impact with it. Who knows, you might just get someone else to join you!

1 Reflection Question

When was the last time I learned a new skill?

Until next month,

Dr. Eric Rooker

Founder of Operators to Owners

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