So here’s a question… Are you still learning?
If you want to keep growing as a person the answer must be YES!
I signed up a week ago for a new learning programme. Yip, that’s right, some more learning on top of my job (which is like learning on daily basis) and completing my Masters at Fuller Theological Seminary on Global Leadership. I’ve got abolition, leadership and theology covered, but I got to thinking, what about my own productivity? Am I being the best that I can in everything that I do?
I was fortunate enough during my corporate days to go through the extensive Seven Habits For Highly Effective People training, and I taught a lot of personal productivity type subjects in many of the training courses I have run over the years, but like most things you get stale on some of the things that matter.
I could have gone back and dusted off the books and cassette tapes of the 1990’s and reread, review and get a nostalgic shot in the arm from that great material, however, I wanted to get some currency into my learning. Who is ahead of the game in the 21st Century that could help me as a person, a husband, a father, a leader in 2014 and beyond, to be more productive?
Last year as I was transitioning from a Christian based ministry era from 2001 to 2014 into a more secular environment I signed up to a secular magazine called Success Magazine. It’s delivered to me electronically and it packs a powerful punch of the über successful into a monthly edition. It’s not for the faint of heart because of its in your face “success talk”, but it does feed me in order to think positively about life and in particular the work that I lead.
The founding editor of Success Magazine, Darren Hardy, sent to the many thousands of subscribers an opportunity to listen to what he felt were the six most important characteristics of success that he gleaned from talking with people who are on top of their game over the last ten years. The list includes top CEO’s, elite athletes, successful entertainers, and some of the best charity executives around the world. Those six characteristics are: Think big; surround yourself with great people; hard work; insane focus; failure; and constant and never-ending growth. As I listened, I got to thinking that this is an area of learning I need to do more work on, for me personally, as well as the different areas in my life. Some of you might think that getting into the second half of life is the opportunity to dial back, but I feel more passionate about learning now than I ever have.
I took up the inevitable opportunity at the end of the free webinar to sign up to Darren Hardy’s Insane Productivity programme as a special treat for my personal learning. This began last Saturday (18 October 2014) and I am already glad I did. My Credit Card might have taken a hammering but I believe the investment is critical to keep my learning going.
Last week a key take away for me was learning more about what distracts us from being insanely focused… Digital distraction is a big one and whilst I didn’t hit the top of the digital addiction assessment, I do need to work on this area of my life. I live in the digital world and I need to focus on what’s important and say no to the things that are not! Sorry but watching cute cat videos on Facebook is on the NO list.
This week (week 2 of 12 weeks) my take away is how to create jam sessions of productivity. That is, 90 minute bubbles of insane productivity followed by deliberate recovery space. Research indicates that if I do just one of these 90 minute jam sessions each day, I’ll be doing three times the productivity than some of the biggest successful names on the planet. Elite and serious athletes train this way, they have sessions of intense workout or sprint, followed by deliberate recovery time. Depending on the sport this will obviously be different for everyone. I think I intuitively do this, but I want to bring more focus.
My reason for writing this blog post is not to give you a blow by blow of my learning but to raise the question again, are you learning? I met with a mate a couple of weeks ago and he told me he was learning a new language. I say why and his response was awesome. He is simply doing it for himself and loving every minute of it. Will it be useful for him somewhere else in life? Sure it will but that’s not his motivation. Doing something for himself for once is the motivation, and he chose learning. I have another friend, who is an inspiration to me, is doing a PhD in her sixties. She’s motivated by learning and I suspect she always will be. You rock Phil and Bev!
I often ask, when dialoguing with leaders about leadership, what they are currently reading. If a leader doesn’t have something on the go then they are not learning. It doesn’t have to be leadership books, but what is stimulating their brain as they lead? Because I’m studying for a Masters Degree I usually have at least five books on the go at anyone time, plus several articles, video and lectures. I also have a shelf in my home office dedicated to books I need to read, plus a few on my tablet.
How about you, what motivates you to learn? It may not be tertiary education, it might be taking a night class on cooking or how to play reggae music, or an online motivation course like insane productivity. Whatever it is keep learning.
“Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts, never fears, and never regrets.” – Leonardo Da Vinci