The Habit of being a Lifetime Learner

swingHabits drive our lives. Good habits…and even those that don't serve our interests so well. But in either case, wherever we place our focus and priority… it is those "habits" and automatic behaviors that will determine where you end up.

Just like the habit of a lifetime of learning. You can finish your official schooling, find a job, show up for work and think you have it all figured out. Or… you can land that job, continue to search for new ideas and opportunities for improvement, always asking questions, and looking forward to continuing your lifetime of education and learning. In my life, it seems that those that don't want to operate in a vacuum, connect with peers, and always challenge their current performance are the ones that succeed.

That certainly applies within the amusement parks and attractions industry.

Recently I attended the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) Convention in Orlando. I have attended annually for over 30 years….and always return knowing it was a great investment of my time. That may represent the biggest "Habit" and lesson for me... consistency matters! Something is bound to stick if you choose the right places to be, and you keep coming back for more.

There was so much creative idea generation… from vendors, education sessions and casual conversations and official networking... I have no doubt that growth will be happening!

By the numbers...

30,000 industry members from around the globe invested in themselves, their organization, and their teams over the past week. Those that attend… gain!

• More than 1,000 vendors of products, rides, attractions and services of new and innovative ways to improve parks and attractions... and the guest experience. And in the process make more money! There was something for everyone... no matter what the attraction size, attendance, type or location. A melting pot of new ideas for consideration!

Nearly 200 educational sessions, institutes, symposiums, tours, round tables, lunch & learns, keynotes, consultations and more. Lifetime learning at its finest.

• Over 10,000 people attending the above educational opportunities. The industry just got a lot smarter... and is in a better position for 2015! Competition is alive an well.

• Over 300 volunteers. I really don't know how many there were (there was likely many more than this)... but so many individuals give of their time to contribute in significant ways! Perhaps the most impressive... are the Ambassadors. These college students and young professionals are making a real commitment to their futures, contributing to our industry, and donating their time. Their eyes are wide open to the career opportunities, while they provide exemplary service throughout the event. You always get more than you give.

Every business represented shares common interests of improving their; Safety, People, Operations, Human Resources, Finance, Revenue... and best practices... even if you learn that what you are already doing is leading edge. Solutions to every challenge faced were there to be answered. There may be slight nuances to the above based on the Country an attendee is from... but really when it comes to entertaining people… we are all in the same boat.

I don't care what business you are in, being actively engaged in your industry conferences and events will have you not operating in a vacuum, growing both personally and professionally, and advancing your enterprise. It will be the best investment you can make. The bottom line is the bottom line... you'll make more money.

For me, it was a week of making presentations and learning from others, of encouraging and being encouraged, seeing old friends and making many new ones, honoring old traditions and starting a few new ones. I was able to volunteer and serve alongside others that motivate and inspire me. I walked the 9 miles of exhibit floor space and still looked forward to what waited around the corner on the next aisle. And just when I thought I knew what I was doing... I learned that there is always a better way. I met with coworkers and colleagues, and with current, new and prospective clients... and remain honored that I can be of service all of them. The days were long... the nights were longer... and sleep was hard to come by. The beer was cold, the food was plentiful, exercise was slim, and the laughter was real. I enjoyed every minute!

What's been your "go to" for continuing education within whatever business industry or profession you are in?

About The Author

ken whitingKen Whiting is an amusement park and attractions food and beverage operator, and industry consultant for improvements in F&B, retail and workforce productivity. Reach out with any questions or comments you may have at: