Learning Practice #1 – Plan Your Learning Journey

Last week, we introduced the 5 Learning Practices Of Great Leaders. Today, we will start with the first practice, Planning Your Learning Journey. To get the most out of what you listen to and read, you need to ask four important questions….Also, you need to know an important principle from a really cheesy 70’s Burger King commercial.

HAVE IT YOUR WAY

In 1972, Burger King was at an all-time low. It was being drastically outpaced by its burger rival, McDonalds and the co-founder and president Jim Mclamore had just resigned. The end of Burger King looked inevitable. But then, they launched their “Have It Your Way” campaign. Burger King identified one thing it offered that Mcdonalds didn’t…personalization. They allowed customers to personalize their burgers however they wanted. When they leaned into this strength, the decline of Burger King stopped and brought some of its best years. It also brought commercials like the one below.


Today, it is hard to think of something that you can’t personalize. It has become basic expectation of customers. It is often what makes a good product a great one and normal experiences memorable. In the same way, when we personalize how we learn, we both improve as learners and enjoy the process. 


PERSONALIZING YOUR LEARNING JOURNEY

Learning is much like a journey. You have an idea of who you want to become and through the books you read, classes you attend, people you shadow, and podcasts you listen to, you slowly take steps towards your destination. In the past, there was only a few routes you could take for your Learning Journey: the classroom or the work force. Now, the options are endless; you can build your own learning environment. This personalization allows you not just to learn better than ever, but to enjoy the journey. All you have to do, is take a few moments and answer the why, what, how, and when of your Learning Journey.  

Why am I learning?

Every journey has a purpose; It has a destination in mind. The same is true with your Learning Journey. You need to know your purpose, embrace it, and state it (Pearman, What’s Best Next, 217). Before you start diving into books and downloading podcasts, it is imperative that you step back and ask two questions: Who am I? and Who do I want to become? These questions are not a matter of achievement, but of principle. They should be deeper than your job title and speak to the reason why you exist.  Personally, my faith drives my responses.

  • Who Am I? I am a child of God; a follower of Jesus Christ.  
  • Who do I want to become? I want to become the best version of the leader God designed me to be and make the biggest difference I can for his name.  

Once you know the answers to these two questions, you can begin your Learning Journey. These two answers will drive everything you do from what you choose to read to how you apply what you learn. Without knowing these two questions, you have no destination and without a destination, you aren’t on a journey; you’re lost. 

What is my +1 goal?

Zig Zigler said, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” Goals establish a direction and protect you from drifting. It also establishes the pace you travel on your Learning Journey. You want to find the right tension between what’s realistic and what will stretch you as a learner. My team aims for +1 goals. We ask each person what they feel comfortable doing and then ask them to do +1 of that. If you don’t read, start with a goal of reading four books a year. If you read a book a month, aim for two. As long as your goal is  +1 of what you are currently doing, it doesn’t matter if you read four or fifty books a year.

How will I learn best?

With all the possibilities in today’s world, we are no longer limited to learning in one specific way. It’s important to identify how you best learn and then lean into those strengths. Here are a couple things to consider:

  • Visual or Auditory Learner: This is not an exclusive choice, but more of a spectrum. It is helpful to identify which is your primary learning style and lean into it. If you are auditory, buy a subscription to Audible and search for more in-depth podcasts. If you are visual, focus more on reading books and blogs. Though you can gain awareness from any type of resource, it is much easier to gain deep insight when you learn within your strengths.
  • Pixel or Paper: For visual learners, consider if you want to read a hard or digital copy of a book. Each have their pros and cons. For digital reading, one of the biggest advantages is its note taking ability and search functions. A disadvantage is that digital text encourages skimming, which can rob the reader of insight especially in deeper books.

When will I make time for learning?

Though extremely important, personal learning is rarely urgent. If you procrastinate and don’t read, it doesn’t hurt you in the present, but it will drastically impact your future. Unlike your weekly deadlines, learning will never act on you, you will always have to act on it. For this reason, we must make time for this discipline in our week and protect it.

Personally,  I do not have a set time that I read, but I do I have it scheduled. I approach my planning in daily and weekly rhythms. Each day, I listen to a podcast on my commute to and from work and read before I go to sleep. Weekly, Sophie and I read one night a week as well as on Friday mornings. However you schedule your time to learn, make it a priority.

I would love to hear from you. Comment below! What are ways that you personalize your Learning Journey? Do you read a digital copy or hard copy?When do you make time for learning?D

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