As you grow in your leadership, you begin by putting yourself in an environment you love. Then, you realize and acknowledge that you must get better. The next question you must deal with is The Information Question which asks “Am I A Continual Learner?”
Qadry Ismael recounts the story of a team charter flight to Jacksonville. The game plan had already been completed and the work was put in. “Hay’s in the barn, game plan’s done, we’re all set” he said. It was going to be a quiet, relaxing flight. However, Peyton was not finished. He spent the next 2.5 hours continuing to revise the game plan.
I’ve already talked about how he works every Thursday for an extra 90 minutes after practice watching tape with rookie wide receiver Austin Collie. What’s unique is his approach to learning various routes of the passing tree. “Most people throw the route tree when they work out – one hitch, one slant, one out, one hook” says Manning. “You hit ’em all and say ‘Good workout.’ The way I think is, you master one route at a time – one route a day – and you throw the living stew out of it.”
Recently, I had the privilege of spending two days with an African-American leader who is considered one of the top 3 church leaders on anyone’s list in this country. As he was being introduced to the conference audience, one of the many qualities he was noted for was being a continual learner.
If arguably the greatest quarterback of our or any era and one of the top Christian leaders in America both focus on continual learning, if we are going to fulfill our ultimate leadership capacity, we need to be continual learners as well.
The following are 5 benefits from being a continual learner:
- You have more options. When Peyton comes to the line of scrimmage, because he knows the offense so well, he has “more tools in his toolbox” or a wider number of plays to choose from.
- You are better equipped and can achieve more in your specific leadership assignment. In addition to knowing his offense so well, he has the same level of understanding of the opposing defense. The people we serve in our churches or the marketplace are ever-changing. We have to continually re-invent ourselves as well. We have to grow because we can’t lead our people where we have not been ourselves.
- You will have more influence in your chosen field. A rising tide lifts all ships. The reason I noted Ismail and Collile is that Peyton’s leadership has fostered a culture of learning. Everyone has to be a learner or you can’t play with or keep up with him. As leaders, we are creating a culture whether we realize it or not. It is important that you are learner not only for yourself, but for your team as well.
- You have more self-confidence. Anyone who has ever delivered a public presentation knows the difference between what it feels like to have a deep understanding of the material or not. We have all faced the “I hope they don’t ask that question” stress point. Being a continual learner brings self-confidence which ultimate provides confidence for you and security and confidence to those you lead.
- You can leave a legacy of innovation. All assignments have a life cycle that eventually comes to an end. When I think of people like Bill Walsh, Paul Brown, Tom Landry, Sid Gilliam, and Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson. Though they are no longer with us, they were all great thinkers, strategists, and innovators. Great ideas come from a series a good ideas componded over time. They all achieved a level of capacity and influence by continually allowing their mind and thoughts to grow. And their concepts were so innovative that they are still used today.
As you make a commitment to continual learning, the next capacity issue you will deal is how and when to utilize your thoughts. Check back early next week when we ask The Timing Questions which asks “Do I Crockpot or Microwave My Ideas?”