Stop. Before you go to sleep or before you start your busy day, ask yourself, “What did I learn in the past 24 hours?”
Write it down.
Every day push yourself to discern what you learned. That will add another tool to your ever-growing toolbox for making a difference.
If you want to be good at something and you persevere, the payoff is extraordinary.
On day one you learn something. On day two you learn something, but you still have what you learned on day one. On day three you have what you learned on day three, but you also can combine what you learned on day three with what you learned on day one and you have what you learned on day three combined with what you learned on day two.
That’s just in three days.
Now do that for three years.
And then for a decade. It’s not 3650 days of learning. It’s 3650 times all the other days that were combined together. It’s mind-boggling to think about.
And all you have to do is want to be good at something and keep learning something every day.
One of the great lessons I learned from my mom is to go try new things. She used to often say, “Just go try it. You have nothing to lose. You’ll learn something, and you can use that later on.”
Such a great attitude. My work today is really the combination of many, many little moments where I tried something, learned something, and determined if I ever wanted to use it again. As you assemble bits of learning here and there, you now have more than you can assemble into a meaningful package of value to offer to other people.
Right now I’m reading two books from the Civil War era. One on Ulysses Grant by Ron Chernow called Grant, and one on Abraham Lincoln by Doug Wilson called Honor’s Voice.
The thing that stands out for me so far is that they were both down-to-earth, ordinary individuals from low income families. And yet they saved the U.S. and ended slavery. One as a writer and speaker, and one as a military leader.
We need to be very careful not to ever assume that we can predict an individual’s success. Sometimes greatness happens from a person who was well-groomed and well-funded in the early years of life, but greatness also happens from people who are not refined, polished, or rich.
As you think about what you will get for other people this holiday season, remember the person who was with you every day on this year’s journey: your Self.
This is the person who went through the highs and lows of the year with you. This was the person who experienced the emotions with you, who made the decisions with you, and who dealt with the consequences with you.
What can you do for this person, your Self, as a way of saying thank you for everything that has happened. You’re not on this journey all alone. You have someone with you who is really important. That someone is your Self.
I graduated from college almost 34 years ago. When I look back over all those years and think about what I’ve actually done in my working hours, I would say the best thing I did was to read books.
When I finished one, I pushed myself to find another. Not counting mystery novels, I’ve now finished 560 books since college graduation. I probably started and didn’t finish 200 more.
The beautiful thing about reading books is that the impact on your mind is not just the number of books you’ve read. The impact is much, much more exponential than that because your mind starts to combine ideas from multiple books and leads into new ideas. This is the greatest of reading and reading and reading.
Read as much as you can. At least 10 pages a day. You will be vastly better equipped to consistently deliver excellence when you do that.
Take some time to rest. Not only to not work, but to also take a break from volunteering and parenting and taking care of parents. Let your mind and body unwind. Call it meditation, call it taking a nap, call it vegging out. But rest.
Allow your internal batteries to recharge for an extended period of time. Not just one day a week, but every day.
And then go back into action.