Listen carefully…

“Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.”

Jimi Hendrix

How do you know when you are gaining wisdom? When you are listening to learn, not to simply respond. What is the most effective way to accomplish this? Improve your ratio of questions to statements. If you are making more statements than asking of questions you are focused on imparting knowledge. If you are asking more questions then you are learning to gain wisdom. The value of wisdom is knowing how and when to use your knowledge. Without wisdom, you just have information, and that’s not nearly as valuable…

Something new…

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

Abigail Adams

What are you planning to learn today? What are the opportunities ahead of you to gain new knowledge? Do you have a plan? If not, then just use two simple questions to bring focus to your learning.

First, begin your day with this question. “What do I want to learn today?”

Second, At the conclusion of the day ask yourself the follow up, “what did I learn today?”

I use a digital journal to keep up with these questions but use whatever method works for you. Just be sure you are learning!

Without intentional focus on learning, growth is accidental. That’s no way to live. That is just survival and existence. There is so much more to life than just existing. Learn something new!

To learn, find your joy…

“All wish to possess knowledge, but few, comparatively speaking, are willing to pay the price.”

Juvenal

What is it that you find exciting about learning? What topics motivate you to put forth the effort to study and grow? Do you find the time to embrace opportunities to gain new knowledge and wisdom? Do you intenionally create those opportunities?

I have long believed that the minute one stops learning you begin to descend into a place of complacency and then irrelevancy. Perhaps this comes from my formative years as a autodidactic where everything I learned from 5th grade until college was self-taught and self-directed. (I was home-schooled through those years and 100% of my learning was self-directed) For years I believed that this was a impediment and something that held me back, but now I believe that it was exactly the opposite, it created an insatiable thirst for knowledge and learning for topics that I was intrigued by. It never felt like work to put forth the effort into the topics I was interested in.

That is the key to learning, you must have the motivation to do the hard work. The magic happens when the effort is joyful and it doesn’t feel like labor at all. Instead the energy and time spent acquiring knowledge feels like a gift and a blessing. Motivation to invest the energy and time required to develop mastery of any subject comes in two forms.

First, a passion for the topic itself and whatever it is that you are learning. For me that would be reading books on history and leadership throughout history. I love digging into a great book on historical figures and understanding how and what they did in their lives that impacted the course of the world. For example, I am reading the book “Hamilton” right now and it is absolutely fascinating. Other great examples are the Walter Isaacson books on Steve Jobs, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Einstein. For some, reading these books would be pure torture and boredom but for me they were all fascinating and the effort to read them wasn’t work at all.

Second, a passion for the end result that comes from gaining new wisdom and knowledge. This can take many forms but it is the desire to achieve some goal that makes the hard work to attain knowledge worth the effort. An example might be a topic in college that isn’t personally interesting but is required to achieve the end state, the degree, so one puts for the effort to learn and master the material.

The key to learning is this, discover your motivation that makes it worth paying the price of learning. These will either be internal or external but they must exist or one will never be able to motivate themselves to enact the discipline required to learn something new. Learning is hard work, but it doesn’t have to be joyless work. I would strongly argue that the best way to learn is to discover your joy for the work. Then, and only then, does learning becomes easy, and worth the price…

Wonder or wander?

“If we wonder often, the gift of knowledge will come.”

Arapaho

I wonder how much growth and change has been initiated by ideas that occur when people are “in the shower.”  I know that this is a cliche but it certainly appears to be true from folks that I talk with regularly.  Getting outside of a normal thinking environment and allowing your mind to work unburdened by daily stress and routine demands is so important.  

Now though, it makes me think of the quote differently.  What if you changed just one letter in the above?  What if it read, “If we wander often, the gift of knowledge will come.” I think I wonder best when I wander… 

 

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