Have you learned something new lately? It’s amazing how learning a new skill or habit rejuvenates our lives and empowers us for greater things. I believe that God has created us each uniquely and for a greater purpose. To me the joy of living is discovering what God is doing through me, through my perspectives, through my talents, and through what I’m learning.
So, how do we learn more effectively? It begins with asking good questions. Here are seven guiding questions that will help you down the trail of discovery and learning.
Why do I need to grow in this area or topic? Have you developed a personal mission statement, along with some supporting goals? Before you take on learning something new, decide upfront if this is taking you closer to where you want to go—toward who you want to be. Hopefully you’ve discovered some higher purpose in your life, something that’s greater than you. To quote Stephen Covey: “Begin with the end in mind.”
What’s holding me back? Maybe it’s a person, an old habit, a repressive memory, a time constraint, lack of goals, discouragement, whatever. Or it may be a combination of these. Discover what they are and address them one by one. I’ve found that some things that have held me back were only imagined, barriers or wrong beliefs I created in my mind.
Who can help me? Once you’ve decided on an area of growth and realized the constraints, then decide who can come along side you and show you how to grow. You might ask this person to be a formal mentor or you may simply develop a relationship to gain their wisdom. Understand how they overcame constraints in their life. Hang out with wise people and chances are you will become wise.
How will this help me serve and bless others? It’s not just about me. I’ve learned that most successful people are outward looking. They’re not improving and growing just to satisfy their own needs. This kind of thinking spurs us on when we get discouraged. Motivation seems to work best when we’re ultimately doing something for others.
What will it cost me? It’s good to count the cost before you take on learning a new task or skill. Learning takes time and sometimes sacrifice. It will take patience and sometimes you’ll need to fork over some dough to get proper training—or to deal with your constraints. When it comes to learning and reaching your goals, don’t skimp. How bad do you want this? Think about the return it will bring you.
What resources should I use? Some may think this question the least important, but I believe the answer will determine how quickly you learn and reach your goals. Many learn from reading books, taking courses, listening to podcasts, attending webinars. Generally, most people learn best by doing. So however you like to learn, always incorporate some way to practice those newfound skills. Look for quality learning experiences. Ask other successful people about the training they invested in and did it bring them the results they wanted.
Am I seeing results? This last question is the feedback loop. Are you losing those pounds, progressing in your career, making more sales, becoming a nicer person, leading others to success? Yes, it’s nice to know stuff. Some get rewarded well for what they know, but knowledge for knowledge’s sake often fosters pride or conceit, in the end—stagnation. If you aren’t seeing results, then revisit the previous six questions. Be honest with yourself, but also be patient. Some goals may take a while to reach. Have faith that your learning will one day pay off.
I pray that God blesses you as you seek to answer these questions. Are there other questions you would add to the list?