I begin each day with the determination to learn something new, experience something different, or meet someone I don’t already know. Doing this requires three things. First, you must wake up with an attitude of openness to something new. You must see the day as having multiple opportunities to learn something new.
Second, you must keep your eyes and ears open as you go through the day. Most unsuccessful people accept their day, tuning things out, simply hoping to endure it. They let life happen to them. They are passive. They are reactive and not proactive.
Most successful people seize the day, focusing in, ignoring distractions. Growing people remain focused, yet maintain a sensitivity and awareness that opens them up to new experiences.
The third component is reflection. It does little good to see something new or learn something new without taking time to think about it. It does no good to hear something new without applying it. I have found that the best way to learn something new is to take the time at the end of the day to ask myself questions that prompt me to think about what I have learned. For years I have made it a practice to review my day and pull out the highlights. Remember, experience is not the best teacher; evaluated experience is.
So, every day I set aside time to read. I read, on average, two medium sized books a week. This means turning off the television and excusing myself from chatting with whoever is in the house, and going upstairs to my study, making a coffee, and actually focusing on whichever book it is that I am currently reading. I also turn the cell phone off.
When I spend time out of the house meeting people and doing normal life I have a book with me. I may end up in line for a few minutes or have to wait 20 minutes for an appointment to arrive because they are running late. I get to read. Now with ebook readers, this is even simpler than ever before. However, I still carry a paper book with me most times. When I am on flights heading somewhere to minister I leave the seat-back screen off. I grab my book and I read.
So, every day I am learning something new and applying what I am learning, reflecting on how it might change my life.
I have recently read an autobiography of a former First Lady of the United States; a true story of a gifted young man who became a drug addict and what it did to his family as he struggled with the addiction. I have read two leadership books by a former mentor. And several books on relationships. I am currently reading the story of a English gentleman who left the corporate world to start a bookstore in London, England which went on to create a large chain of bookstores through that nation; a book on the fentanyl epidemic in North America, and the autobiography of the captain of Starship Voyager – Kate Mulgrew.
Every day I look for something that I can read, someone I can speak to, some place where I can go so as to continue learning and growing. It makes life more of an adventure and it is never boring.