When I coach executives and self-employed business people to develop their success skills, they come to know themselves and others better. As they have worked to learn human dynamics, they have used the following strategies to enhance their growth and continue their education.

Schedule time for learning. You have to carve out time to engage in continuing education, just as you would set aside time for a business appointment. I am often asked, “When do you find time to write?” The answer, of course, is that I never find time to write—I reserve time to write.

Study psychology. The science of human behavior, especially irrational business behavior, garnered a Noble Prize (Daniel Kahneman for psychological insights into behavioral economics). Since our emotions rule our minds, study the emotional aspects of business.

Study fields unrelated to your own. Some of the most promising creative innovations will come from the synthesis and integration of divergent fields of existing knowledge. For example, neuroscience maps the brain to tell us which marketing efforts best capture consumer attention. My previous work as a psychoanalyst helps me apply money psychology in various settings; helping someone become aware of different personality styles can resolve conflict and enhance effectiveness.

Learn to listen empathically. Our best continuing education will come from empathic listening, one person at a time, to those within our professional orbit: colleagues, clients and competitors. Empathy involves understanding another’s experience, feeling, logic, point of view and way of thinking.

Learn to tell a story with brevity, clarity, simplicity and humanity. All business is conversation. Stories sell; facts don’t. People buy stories. A stockbroker knows that when a client buys a stock, he is buying a story. Toastmasters offer a wonderful opportunity to develop storytelling. Everyone loves to hear a good story.

Learn from your clients’ stories. Rather than trying to sell, ask powerful questions to elicit points of view, opinions and ideas. When you really hear their accomplishments and meaningful experiences, you will be in a more informed place to co-create them.

Apply self awareness. Developing your self awareness and effectiveness is the most powerful tool you have. The awareness of instincts, intuition, and emotional intelligence often have far greater impact than facts and logic.

Retain a professional coach. Your most powerful business tool is yourself. A professional coach can help you channel and apply your self awareness and strategically address what’s next, how to get there, and how to succeed at what happens after what happens next.

DAVID KRUEGER, M.D. is a regular contributor to Networking Times.