3 Reasons to Commit Yourself to Lifelong Learning

Learning

Last week I attended a retreat for a leadership development program I am participating in called Emerge. It is a great program offered by Leadership Austin. The retreat was the kick-off for the program and we’ll have six more sessions over then next 12 weeks. I’m really excited about this learning journey.

As I told people about being a part of the Emerge program, I was met with a strange response. Because of my background in leadership development (I have been around this industry my whole life, run a success leadership development business, and create content on leadership topics). The response was usually something like this, “So you could really be teaching these classes?” or “This must be nothing new to you?”

My response to the people who asked was simple. I am always looking for new things to learn or new ways of doing things. I think the number one requirement for someone in my business is to be coachable and willing to learn. If you’re aren’t , you won’t be very successful or very authentic.

Here are a 3 reasons to commit yourself to lifelong learning:

  • The enemy of growing is “knowing”. The worst mindset you can possibly have is “I already know that.” This is a fixed mindset. Growing and learning go hand-in-hand. Once you think you know it all, you’re right back to the beginning. This is difficult for a lot of people, including me sometimes. You may know more about a subject than someone else, but what if that other person knows one thing that you don’t? What if that one thing will make all the difference for you? As leaders we should always be looking for that slight edge. That doesn’t come from what we already know.
  • Learning doesn’t end with formal education. Have you ever heard someone say, “I am so glad to be done with school!” I remember saying that too. Getting a diploma of any kind is a major accomplishment, but is not the end of your learning journey. If anything, it’s the beginning of your learning. If you stop learning after graduation you might as well rip up that diploma because it will become worthless.
  • An investment in yourself has a guaranteed return. Many people invest in the stock market or new businesses. There aren’t many investments that provide a guaranteed return. An investment in yourself is one of the few investments in life that always provides a return. Think of the last time you invested in something, maybe it was a new car or  some kind of stock. What if you would have invested that money into yourself?

There are so many positives to being a lifelong learner. We have to understand that our minds are like parachutes, they only work when they’re open (Thomas Dewar). Your mind cannot be fully open when you think you know it all. That’s why I am in the Emerge program. I have an open mind. The only thing I really know is that I can always learn something new.

Here are a few questions for you to reflect on:

  1. What are the last 3 books you have read? (Let me know if there are any you recommend.)
  2. How much money, time, and energy have you invested into your own personal growth in the past month? Year? In your whole life?
  3. What is one new thing you will do this month to invest in yourself?

Lifelong learning is one of my callings. I believe that it is also our responsibility as leaders. If you want to be the BOSS of your life, you have to continue to learn every single day. Growth is like gardening. If you don’t plant, nothing will grow. What will you plant into your mind?

Maybe you really want to learn, but you think you can’t afford to invest in yourself. Can you really afford not to? The late, great Jim Rohn used to say if you think education is expensive, try ignorance. I think that is pretty great advice.

I am committed to lifelong learning. Will you join me?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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12 thoughts on “3 Reasons to Commit Yourself to Lifelong Learning

  1. Great read Billy. Right now I’m reading The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt which has been challenging me in so many ways. For me, reading a biography is one of the best ways I learn. I love hearing how other leaders have come before me and struggled with their own problems. Would love to hear if you have any good suggestions for a biography to read after this one.

    • Thanks, Heath! Last year I read Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. I loved this book and would highly recommend it. His strategy and willingness to work with people with different views was refreshing.

      Here are some other biography type books I enjoyed:

      Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman
      41: A Portrait of My Father
      Steve Jobs (I read everything I can get my hands on about him)
      Jack: Straight from the Gut

  2. Learning is so key. Many students, esp. growing up, think that once they get out of college that they’ll never open a book again.

    Young people have an incentive to only learn for grades and credential when the bigger picture is… like you said, life should be a stage for learning.

    1) Currently reading

    a. Are You Charged by Tom Rath
    b. The Brain Fog Fix by Dr. Mike Dow
    c. Sell Or Be Sold by Grant Cardone

    2) A ton of money. Probably 50% of my expenses (outside of food and water) goes towards books, retreats, or events.

    3) Currently learning a lot about sleep & nutrition. A healthy body = a healthy brain 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the comment, Tam. I appreciate your insights. 50% of your expenses invested in yourself is truly amazing. That is a growth mindset and a sign of a lifelong learner.

      I personally could benefit from learning a bit more about sleep and nutrition. Let me know what you are learning about that if you have anything specific to share that could help me.

      I love “Are You Fully Charged” by Tom Rath. I try to read all of his stuff. “How Full is Your Bucket” is one of my favorites. I will check out the other two books you listed!

      Make it a great day! Thanks again for sharing. I look forward to learning more from you.

  3. The pursuit of lifelong learning is one of the most valuable lessons I’ve ever picked up in life. I’ve found the best teachings often occur outside of the classroom through personal experience or the experiences of others.

    1) I try to pick two new books a month to read. My latest favorites were:
    The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie
    The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
    The Art of War by Sun Tzu

    2) Personal growth matters to me. What money isn’t invested in books, I spend on new experiences. Sometimes food. 😉 I had a lot of dreams that were sacrificed when I was younger because all of my focus was on getting back on my feet and making sure I had a roof over my head and something to eat. Now that I have an established career, I feel I am making up for lost time.

    3) I recently finished my second novel, and so with my free time I decided to do something I’ve been yearning to: I returned to acrobatics. It was something I had to give up as a kid, but I always loved it, so I found a local trainer and began taking aerial classes. Best decision I’ve made all month! You’re never too old to learn something new.

  4. Thanks for writing this post. I’m one of those people that really has never enjoyed school/learning and even into adulthood it’s been a struggle. I’ve been trying to find ways to keep up my learning even when I don’t enjoy it. The 3 reflection questions you gave are a great place for me to start! Thank you.

  5. I like that quote from Thomas Dewar “Our minds are like parachutes, they only work when they’re open.” Great post! Being a lifelong learner is so important for everyone to set as a goal. We need to stay humble and never think we’ve reached a point where we can’t know or learn any more whether that’s in our relationships, work, or hobbies. Keep your mind active and it’ll also help you as you age!

  6. Love this article! You’re never too young or too old to learn something new. I definitely feel guilty of not seeking to grow my mind enough. There’s so much I could be doing! You’ve inspired me to read more for learning’s sake rather than just entertainment.

  7. Dear Mr. Moyer:

    There are problems with life long learning:

    1) This country does not cherish education and intellectualism compare to Europe and Asian countries especially when the politicians cut funding and business leaders disinvest in education particularly vocational programs and refuse to constantly invest in the workforce with new technology skills.

    2) Many of us had such bad experiences in school that it kind of put us off on learning and being curious about the world and life in general.

    3) No one told us that learning doesn’t end with a formal education.

    4) Many of us are so busy or overworked that we don’t have time and unfortunately, are not paid enough money to invest in ourselves. Many of us would like to go back to college, but unfortunately, it is not free or affordable compared to what our fathers and grandfathers had to pay. Many people don’t invest in themselves until they retired and then they have plenty of free time to do what they want to do. It is too bad that Americans don’t get plenty of vacation/sick leave time like they do in Europe.

    I am trying to go back to reading books and do some journal writing plus re-writing my resume to get promote in my work but when it comes to doing new hobbies, I will probably have to wait until I retired so I can do new things and meet new people with all the time that I will have on my hands.

    • Thanks for the comment. You make some valid points. A lot of those are obstacles to learning, but it is still our responsibility to continue to learn and grow. That doesn’t mean going back to school or spending a ton of money. It could simply mean reading books and journaling as you mention. It seems to me that you are committing to lifelong learning in doing those things and by reading and commenting on a post like this. The most important thing is making a effort when it comes to learning, taking some kind of action. You are doing that. I wish more people would be like you and overcome the obstacles you mentioned.

      • Dear Mr. Moyer and Mr. Pham:

        Here are some websites and books regarding nutrition:

        https://www.drmcdougall.com/health/shopping/books/

        https://www.drmcdougall.com

        http://www.pcrm.org/media/experts/neal-barnard-books

        http://www.pcrm.org

        I would like to get back to doing bicycling.

        I am learning more about what was life in America really like from the colonial days to now. For example, I learn about Thomas Jefferson and Abe Lincoln’ statements about the rise of banks and corporate power. Another example was that unless you had property, you did not have the right to vote in the post-Revolution War era, that the US senators were not elected by the people until the early 20th century and that the office of the public defender did not come into existence until the early 1960s. It is detail in-depth information that most of us were never taught in elementary, high school, or at the college levels. I had to learn all this stuff through websites like Alternet, TV channels like Link and Free Speech, people like Bill Moyer, Thom Hartmann, English comedian John Oliver, and Mike Papantonio of Ring of Fire.