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The More You Learn, the More You Earn

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The only constant between successful people and unsuccessful people is that successful people earn more because they have chosen to learn more. “Learning” doesn’t just mean going to college – there are countless ways to increase your knowledge and skills in order to make yourself more valuable in the business world. No matter what field you’re in, there are always opportunities to obtain more knowledge that is relevant to your career. By learning more, you make yourself less replaceable, thus increasing the value you add to everything you do.

As Brad Sugars, Founder & Chairman of ActionCOACH Business Coaching, says in his book The Wealth Coach, “In life, I will be paid to work from either the neck up or the neck down. Neck up pays better, so the more I learn, the more I earn.”

As a business owner, you must invest in yourself if you want your business to grow. Just as a plant will begin to wilt if it is not watered, your business will either cease to grow or even decline if you do not continue to learn and grow. To quote Brad Sugars: “Where you’ll be in 5 years will depend on the books you read, the people you associate with, and the actions you take.”

The 4 Steps to Learning

As a business coach, I spend a lot of time training and teaching both business owners and their teams. In order to teach properly, it is helpful to understand how people learn.

The 4 Steps to Learning looks something like this:

Step 1: Unconscious Incompetence

We start the learning process with Unconscious Incompetence. Another way to say this is: “We don’t know what we don’t know.” We’ll use driving a car as an example – A small child doesn’t know that they can’t drive the car. (UI)

Step 2: Conscious Incompetence

Once we become aware that we don’t know something or can’t do something, we enter the stage of Conscious Incompetence. As the child gets older, they realize they can’t drive. (CI)

Step 3: Conscious Competence

The third step to learning is when you can do something, but you have to be totally focused on it. A teenage driver with a learner’s permit needs to be constantly aware of mirrors, braking, speed, etc. (CC)

Step 4: Unconscious Competence

As adults, most of us are Unconscious Competent drivers; steering with the knee while talking on the phone or eating fast food. We have mastered it and can do it without thinking. (UC)

But just because most of us can drive cars…can we all hop into semi-trucks and start driving? What about race cars? The answer is no. We fall back into step one. You see, the staircase never ends.

Business owners who are stuck on autopilot (UC) when it comes to running their business run the risk of becoming stagnant if they are not willing to continue learning. There are almost always new ways to think about and do things that we are not even aware of.

As you continue learning, you become a better business person, which leads to the business getting bigger and the business getting better. That’s what you should be striving to do.


Heather Yakes is an internationally recognized business coach and employee engagement expert ranking in the Top 10 in the U.S. & Top 100 worldwide. Heather is the recipient of the 2016 Business Excellence Awards Coach of the Year, the 2018 ActionMan Award for the Best Client Impact, and the 2018 Franchisee of the Year Award. She has 20+ years of experience working with Fortune 500 Companies and Big 4 Consulting.