Every morning, or at least three to four times a week, most of us try to get up and go to the gym. In our minds, we know it’s important to exercise. A healthy body requires good nutrition and an active lifestyle. Whether that’s going for a run, taking an evening walk, or maybe you’re one of those hardcore people that likes to do CrossFit (LOL Tiffani Spealman, no judging, just respect). Either way, you know you SHOULD do it. For a longer and healthier life, exercise is important.
We all know there are a few key fundamentals to a great exercise regime:
- Repetition (except with burpees, I think we should all agree that one and done is OK)
- Consistency (yes, the 3 to 4 days a week is really a thing)
We all know the value of a healthy body, but what about the value of a healthy mind? How many of you, dear readers, take a moment to think about what ’re learning every week? Or are you even doing that? Is there intentionality behind actively learning on a weekly basis? You see, your mind is also like a muscle. It, too, needs to be exercised on a weekly basis. So, let’s use the same fundamental principles that we talked about above.
My dear friend, John Maxwell, reads every book twice. You see, first he marks the book as he goes along, highlighting sections that are important and thoughtful. The second time he reads the book, it marks him. It is said that when reading a book, we only grasp about 20% of what we read. So how do we get the full value of learning? As many of you may know, I have a Master’s Degree in History. Well, getting that degree required a LOT, and I mean a LOT, of reading. One of the things I quickly learned was to write down what I’ve learned and then review it. It’s like John using his highlighter and going back to review. When we write down key points to review and recall, it helps us retain more of the valuable information. It’s one of the reasons why we give all the templates at Build IT LIVE in a workbook when attendees arrive at the event. When they go into our sessions, I want them to write down the information in the book. It helps them retain the information so they can then apply it when they get the soft copy.
A good trainer doesn’t just work one muscle, they work all the muscles in your body. Similarly, a well- learned leader doesn’t just focus on one topic, but multiple. For example, this week I’m learning about grit (or resilience); last week I was reviewing building habits. The week before, effective communication and leadership. I’m working on different aspects of my mind, not just one. And maybe next week, I’ll pickup a good Julia Quinn novel and catch up on the next Bridgerton before the next season starts (a girl’s gotta have a little fun😊). While we may specialize in one topic, we study multiple topics.
Yes, the 3 to 4 days a week is really a thing for learning, too! It doesn’t have to be just reading. You can listen to a podcast or audiobook, or maybe watch a documentary: the purpose is to nourish your mind with meaningful information on a consistent basis. It can’t be like a New Year’s resolution where we start January strong, but by February we forget where our gym shoes are. It’s easy for some to forget about exercising the mind as well. I’ll listen to a Blinkist or podcast every morning while I’m getting ready for work; unless I’ve argued with Sunny, then there is a very angry female anthem playing while I sing at the top of my lungs – Thanks Kelly Clarkson, Lizzo, and Shania Twain😊.
All kidding aside, I will usually re-listen to topics that peak my interest. If I like it, I’ll grab the real book to read later and pull out additional juicy nuggets. I’ve added learning to my daily routine, a small 15-minute habit every morning. OK, so you aren’t a book learner, no worries, even listening to motivational speeches on social media, or learning from other leaders, will prompt the algorithm to feed you more of that type of content. Even they know consistency is key. There are always opportunities for us to incorporate education into our daily lives, even on Instagram. The point is, there must be intentionality about learning. So, let’s start small, download Blinkist and for $99/year you can listen to books and podcasts by some of the best authors out there. Pick one topic a week, and let’s start 3 days a week. Slowly we’ll build a habit.
While I hope you love your body the next time you look in the mirror, I hope you also recognize your mind and think to yourself “damn my mind is a rockstar,” because you’ve exercised the heck out of it.
For more content like this, be sure to follow IT By Design on LinkedIn and YouTube, check out our on-demand learning platform, Build IT University, and be sure to register for Build IT LIVE, our 3-day education focused conference, September 18 –20 in Orlando, FL!