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Lessons from a Learner

It’s the journey, not the destination, so “they” say. Stop and smell the roses. Just breathe. Pause from time to time to notice how the view changes. Take time on the summit to see the big picture.

As a StrengthsFinder Learner, I’m a sponge for books, conversations, workshops, podcasts, conferences, and all types of learning opportunities. I love to share resources and recommendations and look for opportunities to mine a nugget or two from even the most unusual places. (Do you ever lose track of time in a thesaurus app or news feed? My investigative reporting “nose for news” is still alive and well!)

And then there are lessons that happen when I least expect it, even lessons I don’t really want to learn. Here are few examples:

Blindside lessons.

Sometimes a thing happens when I’m in the middle of a learning event. Only later, I realize I was totally unprepared or unaware that there was an entirely different lesson in the making. I was looking one way, and something new and different snuck up on me, leaving me fully unprepared for the lesson at hand.

For example, sometimes I am focused on a plan of action that has been days, months, or years in the making. I’ve been intensely focused and committed, head down, and blinders on. Suddenly, or perhaps if I take a moment to rest, an idea or opportunity arises out of nowhere. The clarity of the moment is so strong that I know I need to pay attention. That’s how I learned about StoryBrand and the storytelling process that has hooked me. It started as just another book and has become one of the most important tools in my communication toolbox. A pleasant blindside, you might say.

Fog lessons.

I’m aware that lessons out “there,” but they are vague and nebulous, so I’m not really focused on them. Perhaps I’m shining my spotlight on the path I’m navigating, and recognize that I can only follow one stream of light at a time. For instance, it’s easy to be focused on an upcoming deadline or event, fully aware that there are other responsibilities floating around that don’t seem as important as where I’m training my spotlight right now.

Sometimes I might hear a foghorn that warns me about the other item, but until I’m ready to pay attention and look deeper into the mist, I’m not ready to take on that lesson…. yet. Does anyone else become frustrated when they realize they missed a signal and wish they would have paid more attention to the horn before it was too late to adjust? Fog lessons might be pursuing certification, special training, or volunteering for something that could open all types of new opportunities. Foghorns are good for learners.

Sculpt lessons.

These are lessons that shape confidence and character. They are hard and often unwelcome. Feedback may be a gift, but sometimes the criticism doesn’t feel constructive or helpful. As a learner, I seek opportunities to improve my knowledge, skills, and expertise. I also work hard to become a better human being by growing spiritually, physically, and emotionally.

I don’t like learning hard lessons, at least those that force me to recognize that my words and actions are misunderstood, not appreciated, or disregarded. Other people just can’t accept me, and I find that to be difficult. Still, it shapes me to be strong, brave, confident, forgiving, and accepting. I learn to accept myself and what I can control, which is me.

Lessons. Some are hard, some are easy. I value all lessons, even those that blindside, seem foggy, or sculpt me. Even when the going gets rough, I’m positive the view is worth it.

What types of lessons are you learning today? Let me know if my insights could help you.

Leadership sometimes seems like the pinnacle of success. Experienced climbers know the trail isn’t always straight and sometimes there are false summits that slow down the trip. Instead of focused on the end, using a “Learn | Do | Master | Teach” approach sets professionals up for all types of experiences that build their leadership skills and insights.