If there’s one thing I learned during my convalescence at the end of last year, it’s that no matter how well you know something, you will forget some of the details if you don’t stay in practice. For me, that was reacquainting myself with some of the many names of the contacts in my virtual Rolodex. I say virtual because most of these people’s names are committed to memory from years upon years of calling and e-mailing them. You name the company; I immediately recall the contact. Or so I thought.

It was humbling to come back to work early this year after a full three months out and realize, huh, guess I don’t have these memorized as well as I thought I had. I could either remember the first name and then forgot the last, or vice versa. Sometimes I’d have the name close to correct, but a slight misspelling kept it from popping up in my e-mail contacts anyway.

What does this have to do with flooring installation? Only this: Once you stop doing something, no matter how long you previously completed tasks day in and day out, you will not remember every single step that you think you have stored in memory. In my case, I’ve been working in the industry now for close to 16 years. I know that’s still a baby compared to many of you seasoned veterans out there, but even after 16 years of repetition, I forgot some of the details that I prided myself on knowing—and after only three months.

The other big revelation for me about being out of the loop is how much you have to play catch-up on all the new products, technologies and news that’s still coming out of the industry while you’re temporarily no longer a part of it. You need to constantly stay on top of the latest information—the acquisitions, the trade shows, the new hires—when you’re in the industry. You might not even realize you’re doing it, but every time you pick up a trade magazine like FCI, surf an industry website or even talk to a colleague, you’re reminding yourself what’s going on out there and putting it into practice.

All I want to say is never stop practicing. Never stop learning. And never feel bashful or foolish for needing to review an instruction sheet or watch a training video. Once you stop learning, once you stop training, you have already reached the limits of your potential. And like me, I’m sure you are not ready to just shrug your shoulders and say, “Yeah, this is good enough.”