If you ask the 10 most successful people you know about the secret to their success, you will hear a lot of different answers. Some will say to work hard. That’s true. Others will say to never give up. That’s true, too. But one response might surprise you—because it surprises a lot of people and is somewhat counterintuitive—is “continuous learning.”

Many people assume the most successful people are really good at what they do and no longer need to know. They’re the experts. They do the teaching, not the learning. But that’s not true. In fact, lifelong learning is the key to getting and staying ahead in any career.

“Learning is the minimum requirement for success in your field. Information and knowledge on everything is increasing every day. This means that your knowledge must also increase to keep up.” — Brian Tracy

Here are four ways you can use continuous learning to help you achieve continuous income growth.

1. Learn in-demand skills.

With some positions, you will run up against a ceiling of what you can get paid. Many times, those are jobs that are not directly tied to production. You might earn a bonus if the practice does well but at some point, your salary will flatten out.

To avoid that, learn in-demand skills that position you to make more money. Can you learn how to run Facebook ads well? Maybe you can take over some marketing roles to earn extra money. Or, maybe you can learn skills that can help you get a different position at another practice, along with a nice pay bump.

Look at all the skills practices value, find ones you enjoy and can be good at, and start learning.

2. Learn sales and customer service skills.

If you are in a production-focused position, like hygienists or associates, learn sales and customer service skills to more confidently present treatment plans.

Many patients don’t move forward with treatment because of the case presentation, not because they don’t want or need the treatment. Sometimes, they are confused. Sometimes, they don’t know they can afford the care. And sometimes, they feel like they’re being “sold to” instead of being guided to making the best decision for their oral health.

Learning quality sales and customer service skills can serve you well while helping you serve your patients better, too.

3. Earn certifications.

While certifications don’t always equate to actual skills or knowledge, getting a certification tells employers you are a someone who will work hard and invest in continuous learning.

Sometimes we are just a certification away from our next pay bump. To find out, look at job listings for positions you aspire to get in the future. Do they list any certifications as requirements or even a plus? If so, consider earning those certifications outside of work hours.

4. Learn skills that help you earn additional income, even outside of dentistry.

Sometimes a little side income is all we need to rediscover our passion for dentistry. That side income could be in or outside of dentistry. And it could even help you make more money in dentistry. Maybe a side-income is all you need to make money.

For example, if you become really good at case presentation, you might start coaching other dental professionals. As you get more experienced coaching, you can raise your rates and even earn money from online training or public speaking. And with all that focus, you will likely continue to improve your case presentation skills, too.

Do you invest in continuous learning?

The only way to continuously earn more money is to continuously learn and improve.

If you want help, support, and accountability join your colleagues in the Dental Hub 360 and Trapped in an Op Facebook groups.

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