The Lifelong Learner

As another school year begins, September is the perfect time to take a look at your own learning and development. What have you undertaken this year to increase your knowledge, to expand your network or to develop new skills? What will you plan for 2012? In my view, part of being a good coach is sharing helpful resources such as books, programs and contacts with my clients. Here are three resources to consider as you plan for your professional development:
  1. The Institute for Leadership Fitness
  2. Developed by my coaching colleague, David Chinsky, this year-long leadership development experience, aimed at aspiring and high potential leaders, introduces 16 different tools and processes in the four key components of leadership fitness: clarity, confidence, effectiveness and vitality. Participants attend four full-day workshops over the course of a year (one workshop every 90 days) with executive coaching in-between sessions to create and execute a customized development plan. This integrated learning approach creates the sustainability needed when implementing new success habits. More than 250 high-potential leaders have been trained through the Institute for Leadership Fitness and the program is expanding to Phoenix and parts of Europe this year. As an affiliate, I’m pleased to announce that I will be teaching the first Lansing Institute starting in March 2012. To be included in this class or for more information, contact me at or visit
  3. Leadership Michigan
  4. The second resource I recommend is Leadership Michigan. Offered by the Michigan Chamber Foundation since 1988, this immersion-style program works to inform leaders about the challenges and opportunities facing our state. Participants travel to six locations seeing first-hand the varied industries and issues of Michigan. Past experiences have included trips to the mines of Marquette, the prisons of Jackson, the medical research facilities of Grand Rapids and many other unique experiences. In asking graduates of this program to list outcomes gained from their participation in Leadership Michigan, they cite exposure to future business trends, a spark in creativity, a better sense of personal leadership potential, and an enhanced statewide network of colleagues. Applications for this program are typically due in January of each year with the program starting in April. More information can be found at
  5. Mastermind Groups
  6. While both of the above programs are tuition-based, creating your own Mastermind Group can be accomplished with no cost other than time. The concept of the Mastermind Group was introduced by Napoleon Hill in his classic book, Think and Grow Rich. He wrote about the Mastermind principle as “the coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” In the third year of running my business, I created a Mastermind Group with three other coaches with the purpose of growing our respective coaching businesses. Along the way we added two more coaches to expand the richness of our conversations. We exchanged resources — the latest books, websites, tools, we talked about future trends of the coaching industry, we collaborated on professional projects and we became an invaluable support structure to weather the ups and downs of our personal lives. A thousand thanks go out to my Mastermind Group of Trudy, Sara, Grace, Sandy and Julie. For information on starting your own Mastermind Group, I’d recommend Karyn Greenstreet’s Passion for Business website. She’s written a free e-book called How to Create and Run a Mastermind Group and often offers a free teleclass on mastermind groups. Check out her information at Whatever path you take to increase your knowledge and skill set, the important aspect is to always be adding and enhancing. By adopting the curiosity of the lifelong learner, not just in September, but all year round, you will keep up on contemporary business and leadership topics and soon you will be relishing your new “school days.”

Tags: Business coach, leadership, learning


Susan Combs

Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit or for more information.

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