In life, as in construction, education is an ongoing process. Why do we need to continue learning? The industry is developing new tools and techniques every day. Manufacturers are introducing products that solve past construction problems or address new ones. The use of products without proper knowledge often leads to mistakes and liabilities. Many companies and forums are also sharing new ideas on running a business. But how do we make the most of continuing education?

Decide what you need to learn. Be specific about your weaknesses and admit you need help to learn. Make a list and keep it current. Write ideas on it as you get them. If you need help getting started, ask your employees or your boss.

Make a commitment. Set aside time and money for this education. Commit to learning something new on a weekly basis, through activities such as reading this magazine, reading a book about business, listening to a tape, or attending an association meeting. Yearly goals can include attending a trade show, attending a business conference unrelated to construction, and enrolling in a college, community college, or trade school.

Follow up with a report of what you learn. Learning is useless unless it is put into practice. Isolate a few educational activities you plan to pursue and then report back to your company. Enlist your colleagues' help in making appropriate changes to the company based on what you have learned. --Tim Faller, Field Training Services,