Today is my birthday and while I’m receiving a few nice shirts from my wife, I wanted to be certain to give something away. I want to share with you a practice that I have built into my leadership rhythms that will transform what you do today, as well as enable you to achieve the longer range goals you’ve set out for yourself. Today I recognize that I’m growing older, but my question to myself on milestone days like this and at the end of the year is always the same: Am I growing wiser?
Henry Ford said that anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter is that older does not mean wiser. I have met young men and women who have wisdom beyond their years and older men and women who are foolish. The differentiator is the intentional commitment to be a lifelong learner. It is true that you learn nothing from your experiences, only from reflecting on those experiences.
Lifelong learning → Growth → Productivity → Goal Achievement
Business philosopher Jim Rohn observed that most homes valued over $250,000.00 have a library. While that does not tell us that success is owning a big home, it should tell us something about the impact of learning. Leaders worth following are lifelong learners. Curiosity and need drive leaders to gain new areas of skill and expertise as they explore learning from other people, books, articles, blogs, and ongoing training opportunities. If lifelong learning is so important, why doesn’t everyone do it? It appears that only a small percentage of people take the time needed to extract learning from their experiences. I understand why people don’t invest the time in learning. It’s stretching, it takes time and hard work. Allow these insights from Harvey Mackay to provide some motivation for you as it relates to the reading component of learning:
- If you read just one book per month for 12 straight months, you will be in the top 25 percentile of all intellectuals in the world.
- If you read five books on one subject, you are one of the world’s foremost leading authorities on that subject.
- If you read just 15 minutes a day — every day, for one year — you can complete 20 books.
Hit fast forward on your life five years from now. What do you need to learn today in order to achieve the goals you’ve set or the career advances you are hoping for? You must start taking steps today, as learning is most often slow and incremental. Becoming a lifelong learner takes time, intentionality and discipline. Health warning: Taking learning seriously will result in significant life changes. As you grow, you will find that your interests change. You may even find yourself traveling with a new circle of friends. Embrace it all!
What do you need to learn to move you forward in your career? What do you need to learn to move one step closer to the attainment of your goals? Put a learning plan in place this week that will serve you well to become older and wiser.