Intentional learning isn’t easy. You might be in danger of learning through tunnel vision. God created each person that you encounter today. Each person has something to teach you. They are His creation, His image bearers. Are your eyes open to this? Maybe you have tunnel vision. You only learn from a few people. You elevate some people in your mind, and dismiss others as inferior. As we talked about the other day, ego can keep you from learning. Here are five people you should be learning from that you might have overlooked. They will help you become better at learning.
- The Person You Look Down On. For some reason or another, you look down on them. Maybe it is an ethical reason, a financial reason, a personality reason, or a prior conflict. Either way, you look down on this person. And this keeps you from learning from them. Not only that, it pollutes your mind with toxic thoughts that are intended to exclusively be directed towards them, but end up spilling out on other people as well. The contempt you have for one person spills out into your life until you are a person who secretly holds many in contempt. This keeps you from learning more, and leading better. What does that one person have to share with you? Don’t stay in the rut of contempt.
- The Person You Are Leading. This one would almost seem overlooked. However, it happens time and time again. Leaders meet with the leaders who are under them to make sure their leaders are hitting their objectives. However, the top leader misses the opportunity to learn from their leaders because of hurry, insecurity, or overlooking the opportunity to learn from a very capable person. Think about it. If you are a leader, then you want to learn from this person. They are often capable in an area you are not capable in. You didn’t hire them to become a miniature you. You hired them because they will help carry out the vision you are working so hard to accomplish. Learn from them.
- The Person Who Seems Out of Reach. Everyone has one of these people. For some leaders, it might be Rick Warren. For some leaders, Warren Buffet. For others, it is John Maxwell. This happens when we make a judgment about that person that we want to learn from and then hide behind that judgment. For instance, “I would love to meet with Andy Stanley so I could learn from him.” Oh really? How much would you love that? How many times have you called North Point? How many times have you written Andy a letter. (By the way, if you called North Point and got through to Andy, what would you ask him? Sometimes, we can trick ourselves into “wanting to learn from someone” when we really want to be able to identify ourselves with someone. When you want to learn, you should be ready for that person to answer the phone and give you fifteen minutes or one hour of their undivided attention. They may not be available, but be ready.) When I lived in Georgia for a summer, I tried to meet with Andy Stanley. His secretary said he was busy, but his wisdom on leadership is in his books, podcasts, and preaching. Now, I learn from Andy Stanley in all of those arenas. And I think I’m learning more from many hours of reading and reflecting over the leadership content he puts out there in this way, than I would from spending a little bit of time with Andy in person.
- The Person Who Is Second or Third in Command. An interesting thing about the empowering CEO. He is often the visionary. However, the visionary isn’t necessarily a detail person. The visionary is often big picture, and purposefully surrounds himself with leaders who implement far better than he ever could. Although he can communicate to you why the organization exists, their core values, and even the different layers of the organization, it is actually the person who is 2nd, 3rd, or 4th in command who can tell you in detail how they accomplish the processes throughout the organization. It makes sense that you want to meet the guy at the top. You should talk to the people he trusts the most, because they are the people who implement the vision.
- The Person Who Influenced The Person You Want To Spend Time With. Something I noticed a few years ago is that every one of my mentors has had at least one mentor. Their mentors are the ones who influenced them to become who they are today. Without their mentors, they wouldn’t think the way they think. I want to learn from the guy they learn from. This plays into reading as well. If I am a huge fan of the way Louie Giglio preaches, but I know that Louie is a great fan of A.W. Tozer, then I am going to read A.W. Tozer so I can understand more of where Louie has been inspired.
- The Wise. Don’t forget about the people who have lived a lot of life in the right way. They often show up as grandparents, great aunts and uncles. Sometimes, they live in a local assisted living home. They would love company, and you will learn from their wisdom and be touched by their hearts.
The best way to learn is by choosing to learn all the time. You always have the ability to learn. Look to the people you would not expect or the people you may have forgotten. They will teach you something new.
Who are some people you learn from?