If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. The right knowledge is power. A common misconception is that education ends with graduation. Just the opposite is true; graduation is when education begins, that’s why it’s called commencement.

One of the most important things that school teaches is that you can learn. To learn is to grow. You should strive to learn every day of your life.

Not all knowledge is equal. Knowledge is either useful or useless. It’s useful if it helps you achieve your goals and get the most out of life. You must be vigilant not to fill your mental space with lots of information that isn’t useful to you.

Useful knowledge can be broken down into several categories; the knowledge needed to be successful in your occupation, the knowledge needed to function in society and the knowledge needed to achieve your goals.

The knowledge needed for your job can be found in many places. You can take classes, read books, listen to tapes, watch videos, take on-line courses or apprentice. All learning approaches are good as long as your information is accurate and current. Find and utilize the method that works for you.

Seek to become an expert at whatever you do. Learn as much as you can about your occupation, even if you don’t get paid for it. When you learn you are investing in yourself. Study the leaders in your field. Experts always get to write their own ticket.

Jim, a shop owner was watching one of his competitor’s employees. He had observed the saleswoman’s extraordinary level of professionalism, courtesy and enthusiasm. Jim remarked to a friend that the woman would soon be getting a raise. When the friend asked Jim how he knew, Jim replied “If her current employer doesn’t give her a raise, I will.”

Regardless of your current occupation, possessing excellent written and verbal communication skills is essential. This requires a solid vocabulary and a good understanding of grammar. Anytime you interact with others you will be judged by what you say and write. Without these skills you severely handicap yourself.

Being able to communicate effectively will open many doors and you won’t feel frustrated that people don’t understand you. If your communication skills are lacking, improve them.

Functioning well in society is often a challenge since there are so many personalities to deal with. You can’t control other people’s behavior; you can only control your own. There are some simple, effective approaches that can be utilized regularly.

Treat everyone with respect and dignity. Everyone is equal. No one is below or above you. Never be rude or impolite. Don’t get drawn into someone else’s problems or allow others to push your buttons.

One of the best ways to learn is to help others solve problems. By devising solutions for someone else you refine your own problem solving abilities.

Everyone has something to teach you. Always keep an open mind because there is always more to learn. Once you close your mind you shut out new knowledge. Be a sponge for knowledge. You learn by listening, not talking. Watch, listen, read, learn and grow.

NOW AVAILABLE: “Dare to Live Without Limits,” the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at bryan@columnist.com or write him c/o this paper.

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