Mason, my youngest child, is almost three years old. The last few weeks, he has really begun to speak well. With his newly-found words, he can ask questions, lots and lots of questions. It’s fun to see him begin to piece together this complex world that lies before him.

My oldest daughter is 11. She, too, is constantly observing, asking questions, and then asking more questions as she puts the pieces of the puzzle together in her own world.

What a gift it is to see these kids as they pursue knowledge, education, and experience with an energized, youthful vigor.

I’ve also watched a similar process play out with new financial professionals. The rate at which they learn and grow is astounding. In just a few short years, they go from having very little industry knowledge, to gaining real expertise. Imagine, being a novice to the financial services industry, and then three to four years later having the skillset to be the trusted professional for a family or business!

Unfortunately, for many professionals, the rate of learning comes nearly to a stand-still once they have a sufficient knowledge base for the typical client they are doing planning for. That same focus and intensity that all professionals embody during the beginning of their career has all but faded.

I’ve also been fortunate to see a handful of professionals who have maintained a laser focus on their education and constantly growing their knowledge base. Their abilities and skillsets are inspiring!

So, which category do you fall into? Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to gauge your commitment to your continued professional development.

1. Do you regularly attend industry conferences, such as FPA or MDRT?
2. Are you an active member of a study group of successful industry peers?
3. Do you regularly read industry publications for the latest news, strategies, and technologies?
4. Do you regularly read books that contain inspiration and encouragement?
5. Are you an active volunteer in community, religious, or civic organizations?

It will require a humble heart to answer these questions without getting defensive. Avoid the temptation to say things such as “I know more than the guys presenting at the conferences,” or “I don’t have time to read, attend more meetings, and volunteer.”

I didn’t write this article with a perfect conscience. I have been guilty of feeling like I didn’t have time or that I’ve already learned everything I need to know. But I’ve also experienced the energy and creativity that come when I do commit to learning and personal growth. And I’ve seen many examples of others who have committed a career to these principles as well. The effort required is worth it!