As the son of an educator, there was a daily reminder to learn, be it verbally or through my mother’s actions. There was never this question of if you were going to college, it was the question of where you were going to college. There was a very high level of emphasis placed on learning and education, because her parents believed in the learning process and education. But as we talk about learning and 5 things we must do every day, we must be reminded, there is a difference between education and learning, because I am reminded on a daily basis, due to my friends in academia, that many of the most educated folks hold little wisdom to truly “moving the needle” in this world, and are just truly intellectuals with very little real world, practical, useful educational knowledge to help and create more servant leaders. And with this I am reminded of the quote by Mark Twain, “Don’t let your schooling get in the way of your education.”
It is almost daily in our household that we work to ask our kids after school, or after a game, or an activity, “What did you love? What did you learn?? This is part of what we are currently trying to teach and instill in our kids. Posting these questions makes them rethink their day or activity, reflect, evaluate, and hopefully learn about what they had done right, wrong, or indifferent, but more importantly, what they enjoyed. It’s a John Maxwell technique I learned last summer, much like following the 5 things we must do each day to learn, to grow, and to achieve our goals.
#1 – Every day we must intentionally learn.
We must set aside time to read something of nonfictional value that helps us grow and learn. Nonfictional, and nothing to do with things such as Fifty Shades of Grey!
#2 – Every day we must reflect on our experiences.
This is the “what did you learn part?” We often commit or create mistakes and we must learn from them, but to be wise, we must learn from the mistakes of others. We must be a sponge and soak up all we can through our very intentional and focused observations of others.
#3 – Every day we must write.
I once had a feed-yard manager about 10 years ago walk up to my pickup and tell me, “Man, you need to own stock in Sticky Notes!”, as I had sticky notes covering my steering wheel and dash. When we have a thought, we must write it down, otherwise that thought became a fleeting moment in our brain never to be recovered again! It may be a thought on something you need to pick up today, or a call you need to make, or a milestone you may have hit to take note of, whatever it is write it down! Since that moment in about 2006 or so, I have upgraded to the digital sticky note app called Colornote, and as my wife and staff know, it has everything from notes on meeting agendas, talks being prepped, book notes, kids quotes, my wife’s yearly running Christmas list(since I am terrible at that!), to Bible verses, to my funeral. The last point not to be morbid, but to be prepared, and to note just have notes, but to have organized notes.
#4 – Every day we must share what we learn.
I have observed and watched many people over my life and career, and not sharing what we learn is the #1 critical failure of many people, be it sharing with their kids, their spouse, the people in their organization, those that we lead, or whomever. We must share those beacons of wisdom to create a ray of light for a much clearer vision and less bumpy journey.
#5 – Every day, we must repeat steps 1 through 4.
Every. Single. Day. “You see, consistency compounds” says John Maxwell. Diligence creates excellence out of the ordinary over time, and even a fool can become a wise man though daily diligence of intentionally focused nonfictional learning. You can’t chop down a tree in the forest with one chop a day by going to different trees. But you can chop down a tree in the forest with one chop a day if you go back to the same tree, every, single, day.
Learning is a lifelong pursuit and obligation of many highly successful people, that is a daily devotional activity. Richard Feynman once said, “There is no learning without having to pose a question.” And we can’t lose our appetite to ask questions. We will get old if we lose our curiosity to ask questions and desire more knowledge. And for the college graduates out there, you must remember that your degree is nothing more than a piece of paper that is a license afforded to you to embark on a lifetime of learning. And for all of us to remember, our greatest limitations are what we don’t know! Happy Leadership Thursday!