Could you imagine a repair man arriving at your house to fix your oil burner with no tools? Of course not. Yet, over and over we see people trying to do their jobs with either not the right tools or none at all.
Tools can come in all shapes and forms. For a mechanic, they might be actual tools. For an accountant, it will be their education, their focus on industry changes, and the ability to do the best job for their clients. For sales people, our tools come in the form of knowing our product, knowing the customer's need, and making sure that we are bringing value to the sale.
All tools - physical or not, need to be updated and sharpened. Good carpenters will spend hours making sure their tools are in top shape because they know it saves them both time and mistakes on the job. And that is true for any career, any person. Just ask a gardener who knows that the right clipper will make pruning a tree a pleasure and the wrong one will have lasting, unwanted coincidences.
Often, old tools need to be thrown out and new ones added. Sometimes, we need a paradigm change in how we see things. I was fortunate enough to receive Paul Reilly's book VALUE-ADDED SELLING for a conference I was to attend. Unfortunately, I was grounded due to being under the weather, but the down time gave me a window to enjoy this book. It was a stark reminder that after 43 years in sales, there are always new tools to be discovered.
One of my favorite lines in the book is - "Only 41 percent of salespeople believe they offer a meaningfully different solution. How about you?" (Reilly, 143). And this question is not only for salespeople, it is for everyone. What makes you different? What do you have that adds value to your career? I believe the answer lies in your toolbox. Being ahead of the curve. Being proactive. Being the person who brings solutions, who sees how to change the norm, who looks outside the box for new ideas.
Take classes to further your education, build relationships to strengthen your career, and every once in a while, update your toolbox to make sure it's the very best it can be.