How To Be a Lifelong Learner

How To Be a Lifelong Learner

I’ve been thinking about learning… the lifelong kind. The kind that says, "I’m not too old to learn something new". The kind that says, "I should listen when people want to tune me up a bit because I have a blind spot". The sage who wrote Proverbs in the Bible tells us that if we teach people who are already wise, that they will be wiser still.  “Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still” Proverbs 9:9. Don’t you want to be that guy?!

Apprentice Learning

“Outer learning” is learning about, while “inner learning” is learning from. The former is academic, the latter apprentice learning. In terms of our spiritual journey, this is what Jesus wants. Academic learning may produce theologians who know about God, but only apprentice learning will produce people who actually come to know God: i.e., disciples. (Fr. Anthony Gittins)

I advocate that this same principle applies to our professional and personal lives as well. I look in the mirror and am overwhelmed at how much time I devote to “outer learning” — learning ABOUT people and things. While my knowledge certainly increases, there is still a distance. I realize that I am not fully engaged or completely invested. I am holding back. I am not ALL-IN.

Similarly, as leaders with the function of serving and influencing others, do we simply satisfy ourselves with learning ABOUT our employees, customers, associates, children? Or do we go deeper and learn FROM them.

If we consider “inner learning” and learning FROM people and things, I sense and experience transformation and connection. By definition, the learning is internalized and altering. And the results are different!