What was the last book you read that was a little outside your field? What was the last conference you attended or talk you listened to that was not quite on the topic of choice? Who’d you buy coffee for last that has an expertise that’s different from yours?
If you’ve been reading, if you’ve been listening to podcasts, if you’ve been buying coffee for people you could learn from…then you’re probably a learner. If you had to admit that it’s been a while since you did any of those things…you’re probably in trouble and don’t even know it.
Of course, the truth is that you’ve got to be some kind of learner or you wouldn’t be reading this! But if you’re reading here, then I’m assuming you’re interested in sharpening your group life skills and understanding. Still, I want to encourage you to read broadly, listen broadly, and rub shoulders broadly.
Whether curiosity killed the cat or not I don’t know. What I do know is that only curious people are learners and only learners have breakout and breakthrough ideas.
How To Get Started
If you answered no to my questions above, here are some ideas that will help you jump-start your learning engine.
- Pick up a book like Chief Culture Officer by Grant McCracken, Linchpin by Seth Godin or The Four Obsessions of an Extraordinary Executive by Patrick Lencioni. Need more ideas? Take a look at my reading list from StrategyCentral (where I blog about strategy and purpose) .
- Add a podcast to your iTunes that’s new and different, that will stretch you. I learned about Radiolab from Seth Godin. Crazy, engaging, and the best produced podcast I’ve ever heard. If you’re not already listening to Andy Stanley’s Leadership Podcast, it is a must add. I’ve learned a lot and had my curiosity provoked by listening to the Stanford Entrepreneurial Thought Leader podcast. Very nice and all free.
- Make a date to meet for coffee with someone who’s not involved in your ministry. Could be a nearby group life person from another church. You can find them by checking out the Purpose Driven Small Group Network. Better yet, keep your ears open for people who have jobs you know nothing about and meet for coffee or a coke.
Here’s the key: In everything you do, whether you’re reading, listening to a podcast or talking with someone you’re just getting to know…be a learner. Jot down insights, thoughts to follow up on later, other books to read or talks that are mentioned. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll begin to notice ways that ideas from outside your expertise will suddenly appear relevant.