“To achieve something you’ve never achieved before, you must become someone that you’ve never been before.” ~ Les Brown
Advances in technology and countless other areas have changed the way we live. You can pick any one category and just follow the timeline and the advances made are amazing. For example, think of the advances in television. When I was growing up, we had an antenna on a pole that, on clear days, provided us with three, count ‘em three, TV stations to choose from. In actuality, one of them was always too fuzzy to watch so really there were only two to choose from. Our TV weighed about a ton and a half and when you turned it on, you could go outside and mow the yard while it was warming up. Then, beginning in the 70’s, things started to change. With cable, the American home could now choose from more than twenty programs. Right after that came the advent of beta video tapes and if you could afford it, you could watch your favorite movies over and over. Soon every home had to have a new VCR and we began building our video libraries.
In the 1980’s, while stationed in South Carolina, I lived in the country with no cable availability, so I bought my first satellite dish. It was almost big enough to double as a car port. The thing was huge and I could now pick up satellite signals from outer space and watch unlimited amounts of programming. This whole time the cable companies were becoming more and more competitive. This was also about the time big-screen projection TV’s were introduced, but you needed three men and a strong boy to move them.
In the 90’s we began replacing those old unreliable video tapes with DVD’s. Yes, time to start over rebuilding our movie collection. Satellite dishes became very small – in fact – small enough to bolt onto your roof. Projection big-screens were replaced with more streamlined (but still very heavy) TV’s.
After the turn of the century, the technology just exploded. Blu-ray discs are now replacing DVD’s. Once again I’m faced with buying “To Kill a Mockingbird” on a new format. Those enormous big screens have been replaced with crystal clear flat screens that you can carry with one hand. Or, you may even opt to watch your favorite programming on the 2” screen on your iphone. No more bothersome trips to the video stores, just stream a movie instantly through your gaming console. The choices are limitless.
So what’s my point to all this? The point is this, your current level of knowledge and skill is becoming obsolete faster today than ever before. Even an industry as seemingly stoic and static as self storage is affected by rapidly changing technology and market conditions. It was with great difficulty that I was able to convince someone to hire a single manager back in the 90’s. At that time, virtually everyone that ran self storage was a retired military couple – let’s call them Fred and Ethyl. Fred and Ethyl weren’t really managers, they were caretakers. They sat in their apartment watching Judge Wapner until someone came in to rent a space. Fred spent an hour or so each day making sure the place was clean – sort of.
As the industry progressed and companies actually began competing for market share, it was soon obvious that Fred and Ethyl just weren’t going to cut it. Salaries began to slowly increase to attract people with specific skill-sets. Sales and customer service became necessary for survival. PC’s replaced ledger cards. Hi-tech surveillance systems were installed. Properties were expanded or altered to include climate controlled storage. Today, spaces can be reserved and paid for online. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. But one thing’s for certain – things will change, and when things change, we have to change.
I’ve said many times, “There are no traffic jams when you go the extra mile”, and that applies directly to staying on top of your field. When you start to aggressively upgrade your knowledge, it is almost as if you are running a race and everyone else is walking. You very soon move ahead of the pack and into the lead position. Meanwhile, most of your competitors are simply strolling along, doing just what they need to keep their jobs or stay in business. The idea of committing to excellence has never occurred to them.
We can’t know what the future holds, therefore we can’t fully prepare for it. We can however, get far ahead of the game by asking the question, “What additional knowledge, skills and information will I need to lead my field in the months and years ahead?”
Project yourself forward three to five years and imagine you are one of the very best in the industry. What would need to have happened between now and then? What would you have needed to have learned, done or accomplished to reach that point? One of my favorite quotes from the late Charlie “Tremendous” Jones is, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
With rapidly advancing technology, and advances in virtually every industry in the world, you are either keeping up or falling behind. The choice is yours, whether you will be an appreciating or a depreciating asset to yourself, your family and your company? The clock is ticking. Whom do you need to network with; what books do you need to read, what skills do you need to develop so that in five yours you aren’t part of the pack?
Monty Rainey is a District Manager working in the self storage industry since 1996 and currently overseeing 13 stores in the San Antonio, TX area. He is also a leadership coach and public speaker. For a free consultation, please contact Monty at 830-743-2139 or visit his website at http://www.montyrainey.com .