A lion typically hunts it’s prey at night. It will kill a large animal, feed on it and then be satisfied for a long while. A hummingbird, on the other hand, will go back and forth to the nectar – several times an hour. Over and over, the humming bird gets a bit of food and then keeps on flying.
Leaders need to learn like hummingbirds.
A person can stay fresh and nourished by consistent small bites. Living on new ideas and insights from long ago just won’t work. We must stay fresh. We must keep filling our tanks.
We must also learn while we are living life. It would be nice to put everything on hold while we master a skill or concept, but life keeps going. The successful people in this day in age must be able to breakdown and rebuild with what they’ve learned all while continuing to fly.
This habit of learning is especially true for those who serve in ministry, publicly preaching and teaching on a regular basis. One preacher put it this way: “When I preach, I want to serve fresh bread.” This means continually learning and not relying on thoughts and inspiration from past years.
In terms of staying fresh and up to date, we must find time to learn a little each day.
How do you stay committed to learning a little each day? Everyone learns something by default. But to truly keep a pattern of learning in daily, small, chunks, you need to be intentional.
Here are a few ways you can routinely learn and grow a little each day.
Read a little each day.
I have noticed that there are two types of book readers: 1) those who are in the process of reading several books at once and 2) those who read just one book at a time. I belong to the first group and the benefit I see is that there is always a book around that I can keep reading. There are some on my nightstand, near the recliner, in my car, at the office, etc. When I have a few minutes, I will read a chapter. One of my goals over the last couple of years has been to read a book a week. One of these ways this has been accomplished is by reading some each and every day.
Listen to audio books.
Listening to books is a great way to learn a little bit each day. Depending on the length of your commute or the amount of time you run errands or exercise, you can get lots of “reading” done by listening each time you jump into your car or workout. Apps like Audible are great subscription services for audio books. But I usually go to the library and pick up an audio book and listen to it each day. My drive to work is about 4 minutes, so it takes a while to get through a book, but a little each day compounds.
Stay connected in Scripture.
Read the Bible each day. It’s now easier than ever with phone apps and emailed devotions. I want to be careful here because I believe it’s important to have times of Bible Study and we don’t want live on a random verse followed by random verse diet. But in addition to your Bible reading plans each morning, it’s great to have the “verse of the day” pop up on your phone at various times. It’s a small yet powerful way to stay rooted and grounded. And often, that one verse will speak to something that I thinking about or going through.
Listen to podcasts.
Podcasts are typically short spurts centered around one idea or theme. Podcasts are free and abundant! You can pick any subject you want and for ministry leaders and leadership in general, podcast choices are endless! I typically listen to a couple a day. With most podcast apps (and with Audible and other audio books) you can double the speaking speed, which cuts the listening time in half. Your brain gets used to this chipmunk sound surprisingly fast and you are able to digest more in short spurts! I listen to two thirty minute podcast per day in just thirty minutes. When I’m mowing, I usually get several in.
Ask good questions.
Become great at asking questions. This will prompt you to become a listener and listeners learn. It’s more important to be interested than to be interesting. Asking questions can help you learn bite-sized information all day long! Make it your goal to find out something new from someone today, just by asking questions!
Spend time thinking.
It’s fine to take time to think. We are all thinking during the course of a day, but we don’t always have time to think strategically. Think through a decision you will make. Think through how you will accomplish something. Spend some time each day thinking about what you are trying to accomplish and what needs to be done. At times, when I have to get my head cleared to jump start a project or to switch gears, I will take a quick little walk around the office and just those few moments of thinking will help me become more focused.
Watch webinars and videos.
There are countless webinars and videos to teach you. You can learn a little bit with just a click of the mouse. I recently fixed our dishwasher and our garage door opener after watching video tutorials on Youtube. Short videos and webinars are like having a mentor right beside you – take advantage of them!
Attend short training conferences.
Any conference is an investment, but they don’t have to be long or expensive. If you hear of a conference or training event near you, try to attend! Investing a morning or evening in a setting with others is a great way to learn and spur on thoughts and ideas. Don’t be one of those folks who always tries to go, but something always comes up. Decide to attend, register, commit and attend. Obviously if something comes up you’re free to change plans, but that shouldn’t be the norm.
Be intentional about meeting with others for discussion and growth.
One big benefit to meeting with others is the opportunity it affords us to process what we have learned. We may eat like a hummingbird – a little knowledge here and there all day, but when we share info with others, we shouldn’t be stingy. We should be generous in offering thoughts and ideas! Meeting with others is an opportunity to talk and process what we have been learning and in the interactions, we keep learning and growing!
Don’t be content living on what you have learned long ago! Learn something new today. Develop disciplines of bite size learning. Get into the habit of eating like a hummingbird!