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Tag Archives: continuous learning

Straight roads do not make skillful drivers – the importance of continuous learning

continuous learningWhen my youngest niece graduated from high school, the class valedictorian at the  convocation ceremonies celebrated the group’s accomplishments and encouraged his classmates to further learn and challenge themselves. During his address, this quote by Paulo Coelho, celebrated Brazilian lyricist and author, caught my attention.

Straight roads do not make skillful drivers

– Paulo Coelho

True for both high-school students and adults in the workplace

From the perspective of the graduation ceremonies, it was obviously directed at the young people in the room who were about to embark on their adult journeys and adventures. But it occurred to me then that this piece of wisdom was just as applicable in the workplace, particularly in the context of continuous learning. Continue reading

The lobster as a metaphor for continuous learning

Several times in its life, a lobster casts off its shell. When the shell begins to inhibit the lobster’s growth and development, the lobster has no choice but to discard its old shell and grow a new one. It is the same with humans.  And it offers an important lesson to leaders – in order to stay relevant, both for us and the people we lead, continuous learning is paramount.

In my latest column in The Globe and Mail, published in this morning’s print edition, I offer three specific ideas to embrace continuous learning, to grow your mind and develop your abilities, so that you won’t become stagnant, so that you will always be relevant, no matter what the changes are in your working environment.

continuous learning

You need to cast off your shell if you want to continue to grow

If you get the print version of The Globe, you’ll find it on page B11.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link:

So what are you doing?

As always, I’d love to hear from you.  What are specific things you do to ensure that you are continuously learning?  What are you doing to be a lobster?  Please share your perspectives by adding your comments below.

If you’ve been a reader of the blog for a while, you probably already know that I have a book titled Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? which published in its third edition in 2017.  In the book, I offer three more strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities, as well as 171 Ways to Be a Lobster! Scroll down the page once you click on the link.

The 5 Practices of Leadership Literacy


This article was originally published on November 13, 2017 and has been updated.

books in place of leader’s head symbolizing leadership literacy


Leaders have a responsibility: a responsibility to create an environment of trust, to guide, to create, to motivate, and transform. But to do all these things, a leader must be literate.

And by “literate”, I mean knowledgeable.

Today, information is ubiquitous. It’s found on the tips of our fingers (on the closest keyboard, tablet, or smartphone screen) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

And with information so readily available, ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse.

Continue reading

Take charge of your professional development

Your professional development is something that you need to own and champion for yourself.  Sure, good leaders should offer their employees support and direction, setting clear goals and targets, giving regular feedback, and offering concrete tools and suggestions for future growth and development.  But unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen.  Usually citing lack of time and other resources, the one piece that tends to slip most often is advice and emphasis on continued learning and professional development.

It’s up to you to take the wheel of your professional development

So it’s worth remembering that while your immediate manager and organization can certainly support you by providing feedback, advice, tools and resources, you are the only one behind the wheel of your future.  It’s up to you to jump in the driver’s seat and start steering for yourself.  It was with this in mind that I wrote my latest column in The Globe and Mail which published yesterday morning.

Nine easy ways to take charge of your professional development

professional development

If you get the print version of The Globe, you would have seen it on page B10.

Note: if you are a subscriber to The Globe and Mail, you can also read the column directly at their website at this link:

So I’ve put forward my top nine ideas in this column.  But I’d love to know what specific actions you are taking to take control of your own continuing professional development.  Please share by commenting below.

Grow your mind and develop your abilities

Stephanie Staples is my professional colleague, a good friend, and a past guest blogger right here on the Turning Managers Into Leaders blog.  And she also hosts Your Life Unlimited on CJOB 680 Radio AM, airing across Canada on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.  I was very excited to be her guest on March 11 and 12.  We talked about strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities, based on my best-selling book Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell?

Listen to the show!

You can listen to the archived radio show here – my segment starts at about 14.45 mark.  If you don’t have the time to listen to the whole interview, you can still read about 17 strategies to grow your mind and develop your abilities at this same link.  These 17 strategies are selected from the 171 strategies that are listed in my book.

grow your mind


Well, I’d love to hear your thoughtsI’ve used this lobster metaphor for a long time to illustrate and emphasize the overarching leadership themes of growth, change, transition, seizing opportunity, and continuous learning,  This is  both in the book of course, as well as in my signature keynote of the same name.  But I’m always excited and interested to hear about how this metaphor resonates with you (or not!).  Please add your comments below.

Approach travel (and leadership) with an open-mind

TravelA couple of weeks ago, I blogged about a statement made by Paulo Coelho, celebrated Brazilian lyricist and author, that was quoted by the valedictorian at my niece’s high school graduation. Since then I have been reading some more of Coehlo’s work, and one of his blog posts caught my attention, primarily because it illustrates, eloquently, something that I believe in passionately myself — that it’s critically important for a leader to have an open-mind and be accepting of continuous learning. Since we are presently in the throes of summer (at least those of us who live in the northern hemisphere) which often leads to thoughts of travel, it seems only appropriate to share Coelho’s article titled My top 9 travel tips. In summary, here they are: Continue reading

Step outside your comfort zone

LobsterResizedAs long-time readers of this blog know, I am a huge advocate of the importance of pushing yourself to step outside your comfort zone as it is the only way to learn and grow, both as an individual as well as an organization.  Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? is the title of both my flagship keynote as well as my first book, and both are based on this very premise – in order to continue to grow and develop, you must be willing to step outside your existing boundaries and take calculated risks; to not do so means stagnation and eventual demise.

The challenge of course lies in developing the courage to take the leap, and in acquiring the skills and abilities to actually pull it off.  So here are three ideas to do exactly that:

  • Focus on what’s in it for you.  If you push yourself to network more, speak publicly, volunteer to spearhead a change initiative – how could that help you advance your career?  If there’s a clear personal payoff, it makes it easier to make the first move. Continue reading

It’s a leader’s job to actively promote lifelong learning

CGA0910-2013CoverThe ongoing skill development of your people is your responsibility.  Period.  There, I said it!

Yes, it may ultimately be the folks in training or HR who will design and deliver the learning programs that your staff need, but it is your job to create a positive learning culture in your company or department — a culture that supports and insists that learning continue over a lifetime. You can’t just pass it over to another department and then wash your hands of any responsibility! Delegation is appropriate, but abdication isn’t!  Continue reading

Actively seek out feedback

As a leader, it’s important to actively seek out feedback about your department or organization from others.  Whether it is customers, internal clients, or your employees, each of these stakeholders has important information to share with you about how you and your department are doing, and what you could be doing better.  But … the challenge lies in getting these people to be forthcoming with their insights.  Either they’re afraid of the negative repercussions of giving you this feedback, or they don’t see any value in offering their viewpoints.  In the latest issue of CGA Magazine, I give you four deliberate and effective things that you can do to uncover this valuable information.  Read the article – What the Buzz?  Keeping your finger on the pulse of opinion.

And of course, I would love to hear what you are doing?  Are you using any of these four strategies?  Or are you doing something else that works?  Do share.

A short history of the “Lobster”

As many of you know, my most popular keynote has and continues to be my flagship program Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? In fact, this is also the name of my book, which went into 2nd edition printing last summer.  What many people don’t know though is that both the Why Does the Lobster Cast Off Its Shell? keynote and the book started life as a Monthly Mega Minute.

Every month since July 2002, as part of my commitment to offer leaders everywhere a quick and easy source for continuous growth and learning, I have written Merge’s Monthly Mega Minute, a bite-sized, yet substantial and practical, nugget of information that you can use immediately to enhance your professional and personal success.  Back in October 2002, I wrote the issue titled A life’s lesson from a lobster.  Later that year, the “Lobster” keynote took shape, and then in 2004 the first edition of the book was published.

Sometimes I enjoy a stroll down memory lane … if you’d like, you can read the original “Lobster” Mega Minute here.

A life’s lesson from a lobster