One by one, the great peaks of the world are being conquered. Modern climbers are no more physically adept than early climbers, but they have taken advantage of new methods and technologies. If we are to be successful climbing the mountain of life, we must do the same thing.

Many of you will remember a mountain called the mechanical typewriter that was used in offices of the past. A good typist could outrun the machine and tangle up its keys. Those monsters caused arthritis in many a lovely hand—and would you believe it, they couldn’t even spell!

In the modern office, mechanical typewriters have been replaced with high speed electronic devices that can outrun the fastest typist, spell words I never dreamed of; and with the right program, make suggestions for correcting grammar. I’ll grant you that the typewriter is only one of many office devices that have changed over the past 30 years, but the change was significant. It hasn’t been so long ago that an executive would not have been caught dead with a keyboard on his desk. Today, it’s a common sight. A survey of top management executives indicated that 62 percent felt comfortable with a keyboard, and over three fourths used one on at least a weekly basis. Learning to type is just one example, maybe a minor one, of a skill that is as essential as learning to get your own coffee in a modern office—especially if you want a full cup and all your correspondence completed.

On the homefront, learning new skills and changing past patterns to coincide with our new lifestyles is equally important. Old habits die hard, and some of them can be expensive to continue. A retired friend of mine continues to have the oil in his automobile changed every 1000 to 1500 miles and replaces his oil filter every other time. It’s a brand new car and the manufacturer suggests an oil change every 5000 miles. When I asked my friend why he does it, his reply was “I’ve always done it that way.” Maintenance on his car is costing him three times what it should, and his only defense is “I’ve always done it that way.” That statement is a shovel with which to dig a rut, and a rut has been described as a grave with open ends. The good news is that the ends are “open” and the choice is ours whether or not we climb out.

To begin the climb, we must get rid of any excess baggage that we’re carrying in the form of negative or defeatist thoughts like; that’s women’s work, men don’t do..., I could never learn to..., I’m too old for..., or the iron cage erected by the statement: I’ve always done it that way. We can continue the climb by assessing on a regular basis why we’re doing what we are doing. Are we doing it for a purpose or to feed a habit? Finally, to stay out of the rut, we must keep an open mind to new methods, new procedures, and new thoughts. See you at the top!

Author's Bio: 

WILLIAM N. “BILL HODGES is President of Hodges Seminars International, a business and communications consulting firm that develops sales meetings, management training programs, and human relations seminars. You can learn more about Bill and his seminars by looking at our website