Mark Cole: Hey, podcast listeners. Mark Cole here. Before we get started today, I want to take just a brief moment and remind you about our live Live2Lead event that's coming up on October the 8th in Atlanta, Georgia. We have yet another incredible lineup this year, and you will not want to miss each and every one of these incredible communicators. Be sure to head over to L2LATL.com for more information and to get your ticket. That's L2LATL.com. If you can't make it live in Atlanta this year, you can join us virtually by getting your ticket at live2lead.com/virtual. That's live, L-I-V-E, the number 2, lead, L-E-A-d.com/virtual. We'll see you there.
Welcome to the John Maxwell Leadership Podcast. My name is Mark Cole, And I am excited to have a family of learners on the podcast today. I know that's why you subscribe. I know that's why you tune in every week. I know that's what made you show up for the first time today. You want to learn something. You want to pick up a nugget. You want to do something with it. And today John Maxwell is going to join us. And he's going to share with you a lesson that I think really emulates John Maxwell better than most any lesson he does. Today's title is How to Become a Lifelong Learner.
For as long as I've known John 21 years, for as long as I've heard John talk about his years of awareness, which is about 65 years, and really, as long as John has lived, 74 years, John has been a lifelong learner. And I think that's the commonality to those of you in this podcast community. We want to learn. We're showing up to learn something.
I'm joined today after John teaches with our co-host Traci Morrow, another individual that we could take a whole podcast and talk about how she has disciplined her life to grow and to be a lifelong learner. Now, John is going to be teaching. After he is done, we'll come back and give application, give you business ideas to create lifelong learning cultures in your organization. If you would like to follow along as John teaches, we've provided a fill in the blank worksheet for you, and you can capture that at maxwellpodcast.com/learner. I look forward to joining you after John teaches and share some things that will help us grow together. Now, here is John Maxwell.
John Maxwell: How do you become a lifelong learner? Let me give you some ways that will help you to all of your life be learning. Number one, be growth-oriented instead of goal-oriented. One of the mistakes many people make is they become goal-oriented. They say, "Okay, I'm going to reach this at a certain level, a certain age, a certain time." And I'm saying, no, no, no, no. If you are growth-oriented, you'll hit all of your goals, but you'll keep growing. You see, if I'm goal-oriented, my tendency will be that when I hit my goal, I stop learning. But if I'm growth-oriented, I never stop learning.
Number two, develop a personal growth plan. For your own life, I, again, encourage you. If you want to be a lifelong learner, you have to have a personal growth plan. In my book, Today Matters, again I have this statement. Let me give it to you. It's out of my book, Today Matters. Successful people make important decisions earlier in their life and then they manage those decisions the rest of their life. Develop a personal growth plan. Make a decision to grow, and then on a daily basis, manage that decision.
Number three, if you want to be a lifelong learner, number three, possess a teachable attitude. In my book, Winning with People, I'm talking about number three now, possess a teachable attitude. In my book, Winning with People, one of my people principles is the learning principle. And the learning principle says each person we meet has potential to teach us something. I believe that's true. Louis Armstrong said, "There are some people that if they don't know, you can't tell them." Three attitudes about learning.
The first attitude about learning is what I call the arrogant attitude. The arrogant attitude says, "No one can teach me anything." We've met people like that. They think they know it all.
Then there's the naive attitude. The naive attitude says, "Someone can teach me everything." These are the kinds of people that are looking for a mentor. They're always saying, "If I could just find one person to teach me everything," that's very naive. Not one person can teach you or me everything.
But what you want to strive for is the teachable attitude. The teachable attitude says, "Everyone can teach me something. Everyone I meet has the potential to teach me something."
Now, how do I become a lifelong learner? Number four, initiate meetings with growth potential. I would encourage you to take initiative and set up meetings that have potential for your growth. Such as I every month have what I call a learning lunch, where I ask a person to come to lunch with me that's smarter, quicker, faster than me. And for two hours, I just ask them questions so that I can learn and grow from their life. Donald Clifton and Paula Nelson said it best. "Relationships help us define who we are and what we become."
Number five, identify and concentrate on your strengths. If you want to be a lifelong learner, concentrate on your strengths, not your weaknesses.
Number six, invest in growth resource material. Invest in growth resource material. In other words, I would encourage you to get into some kind of a growth pattern. I try to read two books a month that help me grow. I try to listen to four CDs a month. I try to read four magazines a month. I try to attend conferences. I do things that will stimulate my growth.
Number seven, if you want to be a lifelong learner, number seven, continually leave your comfort zone. Continually leave your comfort zone. Alan Cohen said, "To grow, you must be willing to let your present and future be totally unlike your past. Your history is not your destiny." That is so true. Leaders need to realize that in the long-term, the most important question for a company is not what you are, but what you are becoming. In other words, creating a constituency for the future for what could be, have one on eye on where we are and another eye on where things will be. The innovator is able to build a path between the two.
Ruts are the opponent of innovation. At first, you do what you know, but the more that you do what you know, you will discover additional worthy things, innovative things that you know, that you should do at this point is a pivot decision. If you know what you should do, but continue to do what you have always done, you are a rut. But if you know what you should do, and then do what you know you should do, you are leading and you are growing. Get out of your comfort zone.
Number eight, capture what you learn. The number one time-waster is looking for things that are lost. The number one thing that wastes our time is looking for things that at one time we had, but we lost. What I have discovered is if you want to be a lifelong learner, especially in the area of ideas and things that you read is you have to have a system of which you read or a system where you keep what you've read so you don't have to look for it again. Again, when I read a book, if there's an important statement in a book at the front of the book, if it was on page 37, I'll put page 37. If it was a leadership quote, I'll put leadership. I'll put it in brackets. So that when I'm done with the book, I take everything out of the book and file it under the perspective topics so that I've got everything out of the book that I need to know. That way I never lose great thoughts or great ideas.
Number nine, if you want to be a lifelong learner, reflect on what you learn. Take time to reflect on what you're learning. You see, reflection turns experience into insight. There's a phrase that says, "Experience is the best teacher." Experience is the best teacher. I want to tell you something. That's not true. Evaluated experience is the best teacher. I have known a lot people who have had a lot of experiences and they're not getting any better. Just because you're getting older doesn't mean you're getting better. Evaluated experience, the ability to look at something you've ever experienced and evaluate it or reflect upon it. If you want to be a lifelong learner, that's a practice and the discipline that you want to create in your life.
One more thing, number 10, if you want to be a lifelong learner, pass on to others what you learned. If you want to be a lifelong learner, when you've learned something, turn around and pass it on to someone else. In your notes, a learner builds a reservoir of learning, but a leader builds a reservoir of learning and then becomes a river of learning to others. William Glasser says here is how you and I learn. Here's how we learn. Ten percent of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we see and hear, 70% of what we discuss with others. We learn 80% of what we experienced personally. Now notice this last one. William Glasser says, "But if you really want to learn, we learn 95% of what we teach to someone else." Learning greatly compounds when we take what we have learned and pass it on to others.
Mark Cole: Hey, welcome back. And with me today in the studio via Zoom is Traci Morrow. Traci, I am so glad you're here. And I'm going to tell you. Just as I was listening to the lesson, I thought how much you and I have got to learn together by traveling different places, being in different environments with John Maxwell. It's good to have a co-learner with me today.
Traci Morrow: Yeah, that's right. I love this topic. I know you do too, because we are lifelong learners and it does make me think of John's book, Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You learn. Not lose, but learn. So if you are a lifelong learner, to me that just means you're messing up. There's a time where you are investing in yourself and you are applying what you've learned and you're going to mess up and then you learn and you keep moving forward. And I know that you are a lifelong learner, Mark. I love learning alongside of you.
And I think as we dive into this, perhaps people who are tuning in are learners. I mean our podcast audience are learners. But I know that there are lots of new people, new up and coming leaders who are coming hungry and wanting... John talks all the time about the first growth kit that he ever purchased. What was it? $699 or something like that. When someone says to you, "Where do I start? What's my kit. What would be...?" This podcast is a great first step. But what would you say to someone who is looking for a growth plan or a kit for modern day times? What does that look like for them?
Mark Cole: Well, I love the question because Traci, we finished up listening to John and I was like, "Man, I don't want to record. I want to go do something." I mean, oh, okay.
Traci Morrow: Yeah.
Mark Cole: And what I fear is some people have already turned us off in this podcast because John's done teaching and they're already doing something I hope. I hope it's not that they're done.
Traci Morrow: So, welcome back, everyone.
Mark Cole: Yes, exactly. I hope it's not that they quit because they don't want to learn anything else. I hope it's they quit to go do something. But I'm glad you started off with this question because let me tell you something. As soon as I got done listening, I went, wow, this is so good. What can people do to do something with what they've learned? Recently our personal growth solutions group created a program. And in fact, it's three hours of myself and our team teaching on how we've grown with John's principles. There's some Q&A in there. And then we couple that with John's digital product, 15 Laws of Growth. For those of you that really would like to say, "Okay, what do I do with this kind of a lesson?" I would challenge you go to johnmaxwell.com/growth, johnmaxwell.com/growth. And you can get more information about this product that we created. And you can bet on yourself, invest in yourself and grow.
Traci, I want to say one more thing to your question though. I believe, as John said in the lesson today, experience is not the best teacher. A great lesson is not because it was the one that was the best taught. It's the one that was the best caught. It's the one that captured somebody. They captured it in their spirit and they went and did something with it. John said, experience is not the best teacher. Evaluated experience. The best lesson is not taught. The best lesson is caught. We need to do something with the experiences and the lessons that we take in.
Traci Morrow: Oh, that's so good. And I think from that, doing something with the experience. I feel like these kinds, what I call a podcast like this or any of John's tools that you can purchase or grow through, that's the classroom. And what we're talking about is taking it into the lab. Let's use a school analogy. You don't want to just sit in the class. You need to then take it into the lab and practice it. So as you're listening, most of us who are listening, have a lab, using air quotes here, a place where you are leading, where you can immediately turn. That could be in your family. That can be in your community. That can be in your church. That can be in a paid position or a volunteer position, a business as an employee or a boss or an owner.
Wherever we are, we can turn that into our lab where we can begin practicing what we are learning. Because John always talks about people who are getting ready to get ready. We don't want to be somebody who takes in all this information and it ends with us because if we became a reservoir, not a river and letting it flow through us. And it's okay if we mess up. And so when he talked about initiating meetings with growth potential, that's every meeting we're in, right? But where are you? That could be meetings where you have the potential to grow. I mean, we can learn from all people, but where you can learn or where you are pouring into someone else. What do those meetings look like for you? I know you're meeting with people all the time because you're such a people person. You are always in the lab. And so what's the balance of you learning versus you intentionally going to pour into somebody else? What does that look like for you?
Mark Cole: When I'm in a consistent meeting, I meet consistently every month, I meet with our leadership team a couple of times as a team, every other week, I'm meeting with a direct report. And I have these consistent meetings. And I always start out by trying to remember something that they were working on the last time we met and giving them an accountability checkup on what they've done with that. I work hard at that because I believe growth is the only guarantee for a better tomorrow. John has said that over and over again. Growth is that guarantee that tomorrow will get better over time. Grow yourself and you'll get better.
So one of the greatest things that I can offer a direct report is accountability to something they're trying to grow in because I can't guarantee them a pay raise tomorrow. COVID might hit. We've all experienced that. I can't guarantee them maybe something else in the business role, but I can guarantee them that if we'll stay focused on their growth, they will have a better tomorrow. So I worked really hard with that, Traci. In group meetings, I worked very hard with this concept of what are you growing? Where are you learning right now? How are you growing? And that's a consistent deal. And I do that sometimes very arbitrarily. That's not every time because I want them to always be ready with that answer.
Have you ever went and asked somebody, "Hey, what are you learning?" And they stumble and bumble and stutter around for a while. And then there's nothing. I mean, they really are not learning anything. Or have you ever met somebody and says, "Hey, what's the greatest growth you've had over the last year?" And they really don't know the answer to that. And that's an intimidating question outside of the Maxwell bubble.
Traci Morrow: It is.
Mark Cole: I get that, podcast listeners. I get that. But if we don't ask ourselves this question, if we don't initiate growth, growth will not accidentally happen on a consistent basis. So that's why, what this point John made initiate meetings with growth potential, where I first went with that, Traci, first thing that I went with that is what do I do every day in this program that is available at johnmaxwell.com/growth? Somebody asked me said, "How do you intentionally grow every single day?" And I knew the answer immediately because this is what happens. Every single day, I look at my schedule and I say, "Where do I need to be the best?" And I review the evening by saying, "Where was I the best?" It's a strength question. It's an influence question. It's an impact question. And it's a focus question from the beginning of the day.
On a personal growth perspective, every single morning, I ask three questions. I'm going to tell you those three questions, but I have to tell you what I have already done the night before for you to understand the very first question. Every night I ask myself, "Where did I grow today? What did I learn? What did I learn? How did I grow?" That's at the end of every night. I give myself an accountability checkup on personal growth. What did I learn? How did I grow? Every single night. Not only how did I do from a leadership standpoint, but how did I personally grow? Therefore, that gets me to the next morning.
And here's the question I ask every morning from a growth perspective. I open up my calendar and I begin to absorb what I've got to do today. And this is three questions I ask. The first question I ask is, what did I learn yesterday? Because I've learned, John says this in his eighth point, capture what you learn. And in his ninth point today in the lesson, he says, "Reflect on what you've learned." So I'm really obeying his eighth and ninth point here by waking up in the morning saying, "What did I learn yesterday?" Because I want to recall what I'm responsible to and what I'm responsible for from yesterday's lesson. So first question, what did I learn today? Or what did I learn yesterday?
Second question. What will I learn today? I use to quote a lot. I'm not even sure who to attribute it to. When the student's ready, the teacher will appear. You know what I do? I start early in the morning before I meet anybody, trying to figure out where the teacher's going to show up that day. What will I learn today?
Question number three in personal growth that I start out with every morning, where will I learn today? In other words, that's going back to that quote, "When the student is ready," where can I be the most filled with anticipation that I'm going to pick up something? Now, if you initiate your day or you initiate your meetings with growth potential, I have found growth will show up, growth opportunities. Lessons will show up that will stretch you if you will start with a spirit of anticipation. I am going to grow today. How am I going to grow today? Where will I grow today? And then hold yourself accountable to what did I learn today?
Traci Morrow: And do you write those down somewhere or is it something that is just a mental practice and where do you... I just like to give as much practical information to our podcast listeners. Where do you write it down? How often do you...Where do you keep where you write it down and how often do you review that?
Mark Cole: So, a good friend of mine and yours, Colin Sewell, great business guy from mid-Texas, he shared with me of his black book theory. We keep things in our black book. Some of us keep the names of people that we want to take out if we get a chance, not take out for a restaurant. Take out as in, give them a good blessing out the next time we talk to them. Then others keep a black book of their to-do list. He says he keeps a black book as a schedule. And every single day, he has a set of five questions that he asked. And then he does one other thing that you will love, Traci, because we're all busy, aren't we? Our significant other sometimes feel left behind by what we do quite often, especially those of us that are hard charged and travel a lot.
And in his black book theory, he captures five questions. I won't go into his questions today. They're his. But he also captures what is the one thing that I must tell my significant other this evening? And he's always got that black book with him. I copied off of that idea. So I have a little calendar book to where I ask these questions. What did I learn yesterday? What will I learn today? Where will I learn today? And then also, what do I need to share tonight? What do I need to pass along that would be the most important thing?
If I've got five minutes with Stephanie, if I've got five minutes with Macy, my wife, my daughter, my kids, if I just have five minutes, what is the one thing that I really want to share with them tonight? And I just keep that as a discipline. Back to your question on reviewing, I review that at least at the end of the year. I just kind of go through that when I do my year end review. And that's just something that I go back and really learn and make sure I'm keeping account to that.
Traci Morrow: So every year you basically have a new book.
Mark Cole: That's correct.
Traci Morrow: So at the end of the month or at the end of the week, I'm just trying to really break it down, at the end of the month or every week, do you go and highlight or extract, or do you literally at the end of the year go through page by page and look at each individual day?
Mark Cole: I'm not going to say every week I do that because I want to be really authentic here and that's a bit overwhelming to me. But every once in a while on a plane trip or every once in a while on an unanticipated delay, I just pull that out. And then what I do when I pull it out, I mark the pages that have really been profoundly impacting to me or the pages where I really got something and I didn't do anything with it. And then that becomes the things that I periodically check in on is the marked pages. I have a rhythm of every day. I do not have a rhythm of a weekly or monthly review. I do review it. I mark it when I review it. And then that becomes the things that I really focus on because I'm either accelerating in those, or I have not been very accountable to those.
Traci Morrow: And if you've put it into play, then you're going to be very familiar with it anyway. We talked about trying to apply it as soon as possible. So it's not going to be a foreign concept as you're reviewing what you looked at last month, because hopefully it's become a part of you, your language, the way you do things. And it's more of a review of like, okay, I am staying on track in that. But isn't it amazing how you can look back and think, oh my gosh, I totally forgot about that? Because like John says, he reads two books a month. I don't read two books a month always.
But if you're taking in so much information, taking it in, marking it, taking it in, reviewing it, we're just one human being. So to be able to apply all that we're reading, all that we've experienced, all the things that we intend, it really does take intention. And it takes having a very clear way of marking and reviewing. And that's why I love hearing your process because you're such an intentional leader and because you are a lifelong learner. I love to hear how other people and even a little dip into Colin's world of how he does that.
John always talks about when he travels, he always tries to save one thing that he wants to tell Margaret first, which I love that. For Casey and I, when I'm not traveling, we have three dogs. We have to walk our dogs every day. And so for us, that dog walking time is when we share our days, what we're learning, what is going on in our life. And I have tried to implement that since I heard John do that. I like to tell Casey stuff anyway, but just be to be more intentional of like sharing something really impactful of what I'm learning. And I know that you do that with Stephanie as well. So I love hearing how you capture what you learn and then how you reflect on it and make it a part of you. Is it just Stephanie that you reflect with or... I know you reflect with John. Do you have close partners that you gather together with or people who are in your inner circle who you reflect on what you're learning regularly or semi-regularly?
Mark Cole: I do. I do. So every morning, 7:30-ish, I connect with Kimberly, my executive partner. She is the one that just runs my life and I give her what we call a contextual download. Here's the things I'm thinking. Here's the things that I'm struggling with. Here's the things that I want to get done today. So we spend the first 10 to 15 minutes of our 30 minute meeting working through just contextual download. Here is me. Here's the things work-wise. Here's the things on travel-wise. Here's the thing vision-wise. Here are the things that you need to know to be in sync with me today.
Then she drives the next 15 minutes, which is here are the things we need to get done today. And so she's heard the context of my thinking. She knows what frame of reference I'm coming from. And now we then chart the course of the day or the week or the outstanding things that are on her list. So I do that with her very, very consistently. I have an incredible chief of staff, Chad, that I spend a lot of time with contextual leadership and understanding, and developing that really with this leadership team to just a very inner circle mentality and really enjoying that.
Traci Morrow: So that kind of does loop in number 10, which is pass on to others what you're learning, and then you get their feedback as you're reflecting with others on what stands out to them. I want to jump back though to number five, because I think the flow of it, they all kind of loop back to each other and in and throughout each other and lead to one another. It's not necessarily a linear learning. And I love that. Number five, he talked about identifying and concentrating on your strengths.
Now, anyone who we all know that creator of the Strengths Finder Test Marcus Buckingham is a friend of the podcast, a friend of ours, great guy. If you haven't read anything or heard Marcus speak, you want to, by all means, go look up something that he's written and what he has poured his life into. He's great. We had him at Live2Lead a couple years ago and he was fabulous. But for people who are new and listening and they don't know their strengths, if they aren't sure, they haven't identified it, those new listeners who are listening in, do you have anything to advise other than finding their strengths through taking the Strengths Finder Test. But if there's somebody who goes, "I don't even know my strengths. I don't know it."
Mark Cole: So one, you've given a great source of doing that with Marcus Buckingham. And let me say one thing on that. I'm always looking for an opportunity. I should know this, Jake. What number of episodes, about how many episodes have we had at this podcast?
Jake: One seventy.
Mark Cole: I said about how many? He said 170. He knows every one. He knows every one. And I'm sitting here. Give me a gut feeling. And Jake says every one of them has been my baby. I have 170 babies. Thank you very much. So, thanks, Jake. Thanks truly for 170, by the way.
Let me challenge you. Sometimes podcast players actually delete things that you've saved and you're earmarked, and then you forget about it. We have laid quite the library of podcast episodes, and I'm going to challenge you. To answer your question, Traci, I'm not going to try to answer a question that an expert has answered. I'm going to tell you, go back in our podcast library. We have the Sit Down Podcast that John and I did with Marcus Buckingham. It was incredible. So go back in the library. And by the way, don't just listen to that, go back and cherry pick some of the podcasts that we have there and kind of put them in your playlist because I can tell you that your podcast player by chance has perhaps deleted some of the things and you have forgotten them. So go back and do that.
But Traci, let me do say one thing on this point number five that John did. I won't tell you exactly how to get your podcasts. I'm going to let Marcus and John and their conversation do that in that podcast episode. I am going to challenge you to do it though, because what Traci was just talking about, I believe with all of my heart, that what the world needs is for you to be fully alive, period.
What does the world need from Mark Cole? What does the world need from Traci Morrow? What does the world need from you, podcast listener? The world needs you fully alive. The thing that's going to make you fully alive is when you know what you're created for and you know what you've been gifted to do to deliver what you were created for. And that's what we're talking about by strengths. And so I have this hashtag that I use all the time, love what I do, #lovewhoIdoitwith. And that right there is focusing on strengths for sure. But then now you concentrate on them and you let your strengths drive your behavior in your decisions. And that will be a huge growth element for you in your effectiveness.
Traci Morrow: I love that. And as he closed out, he talked about passing on to others and we kind of hit on that for a second. He closed with the statistic that 95% of what we teach to someone else is the best way for us to learn. That's powerful. So I just want to throw out, I think we've done it before. I know John talks about all the time before we close out, Mark, and then I'll ask for your final thoughts on it, but A-C-T, acting on what you learn. Being a lifelong learner means you are constantly applying, changing teaching. That's A-C-T.
A is apply. Apply as fast as possible what you've just learned. And then C is change. What do you need to change based on what you just learned? And T, teach it to someone else, because we've just found that the best way to learn something is not only doing it, but then teaching it to someone else. That could be your kid. It doesn't have to be like, sit down in a classroom setting. It can be like over coffee, or as you're driving in the car with your kid or in a meeting and say, "You know what I just learned. I got to just share this with you guys. I'm so excited about that." But incorporating sharing, maybe not calling it necessarily teaching, but sharing what you're learning with someone else, and then hearing their popcorn thoughts back based on what they just heard you that you had learned.
I think if you learn to A-C-T your way through the things that you are learning and recognize yourself as a lifelong learner, at the end of the week, at the end of the month, at the end of this year, you will be a totally different person, a different version of yourself, the next best version of yourself when you not just learn, but you are applying, changing and teaching others what you learn. And I know, Mark, I love to hear your closing thoughts on that, but I think you are so great at that. I learned so much from you in watching you, how you interact. You don't just sit people down and say, "I want to teach you something, Traci." It's through conversation. You share what's on your heart and you're excited about it and what it looks like to you based on what you just learned. And then that sparks something in me. This topic just makes me buzz.
Mark Cole: Yeah. I love what you said there, especially that fulfillment that comes from teaching others. As we look closed out John's teaching today, and I'll do it again as I close out mine and Traci's application portion. Action. Seeing the lights turned in people's lives is the fulfillment, is the greatest fulfillment of my own personal growth is my own sense of fulfillment is seeing others fulfilled. And I'm going to challenge you. What are you going to do?
I think it was two episodes ago, maybe a couple of weeks ago. I really challenged you with this question. When is the last time you invested in yourself? I'm going to go back two weeks and bring that back into the conversation today. What are you doing with lessons like this when John Maxwell, again, an established leader, a mature leader, a successful leader, a significant leader, still every single day challenges himself with these 10 questions, with these 10 points rather? And I'm going to challenge you. What are you going to do after a lesson like this?
Now I have a suggestion. Go to johnmaxwell.com/growth and see this resource we've put together to create a intentional plan to take people through John Maxwell's strategy on growth, on how he has approached success that has worked for him. So johnmaxwell.com/growth. Hey, we, truly, Traci and I, Jake, our whole team truly hope that we've added value to you today. We truly hope we add value to you every episode. And when we do add value to you, we wish you would go to your podcast player, give us a rating. Hopefully that's a five-star. But if it's not, tell us why. We want to get better. We want to continue adding value to you because we believe when you add enough value to a leader, they're going to turn around and multiply value to others. And the world needs, wants, desires you to be adding value to them.
Thank you for listening. We look forward to seeing you again next week.