Athletes train. Musicians train. Doctors train. But Knowledge Workers don’t. Not in the same way.

If Knowledge Workers want to work at the highest level, they should train like elite athletes or highly skilled professionals. They should have strong “learning plans.” I know intellectual life is different. Success is harder to measure and the metrics for improvement aren’t quite as clear. Even then, there’s a lot to learn from the way top athletes train. They are clear in their objectives and deliberate in their pursuit of improvement.

I’d encourage Knowledge Workers to do the same. Training needs to be considered an active event. Get the hands dirty. Repeat. Practice and practice again. Devote the hours to be an expert in what is expected to do the job at the highest level.

Even among the most ambitious individuals, learning plans are rare. Most are reactive. I haven’t seen many Knowledge Workers plan to learn. However, I’ve seen them surrender to their environment. They direct their attention towards the stream of emails, instant messages, and social media feeds. They limit themselves to current process and their job description.

I wonder what would happen if they were determined to be the Buddy Franklin of their team. Train hard enough to get to elite status.