What have you Learned Lately?

Are you growing and learning, or are you coasting through life on the skills and talents acquired long ago?

Albert Schweitzer suggested, “The secret to success is to go through life as a person who never gets used up.” It seems Schweitzer was telling us that if we stop learning, there will come a time when our skills will become obsolete. We will have ‘used up’ our value and ability to contribute.

The concept of being ‘used up’ applies to all aspects of life, including career, relationships and spirituality. Think of your life as a carpenter’s chisel or a woodman’s axe. Both are capable tools, but grow increasingly dull with use. Their continued value is dependent on being sharpened.

We need to ‘sharpen’ our own lives, staying constantly in tune with opportunities to learn, grow and mature in our career, relationship and spiritual journeys.

The person that continually reads, asks questions and learns new things about their occupation is the one that will be promoted into a position of increased responsibility. The one who shows genuine interest in others will foster deeper and more meaningful relationships.

I often joke that if you stop, you fall over. Think of people who have either retired or have stopped working due to an injury or other reason. Some immediately find productive hobbies or other ways to occupy their new-found time. Others seem to start a backward slide, disengaging from life – having lost sight of their reason for getting up in the morning.

Do you feel stuck or stagnant or that you are falling behind those around you? An article I read recently in On the Right Note, a publication from K-LOVE radio, suggests that we won’t get unstuck by making external changes such as looking for a new job or even changing friends or churches, until we first look at who is keeping us down. In most cases, the biggest impediment to personal growth is the person who claims to want to grow – you!

In order to do or have more, we have to grow more. Are you serious about getting unstuck? If so, stop looking for quick fixes, take a long hard look at yourself, accept personal responsibility, and commit to self-improvement. Expecting someone else to improve some aspect of your life also means handing over the power or authority for that part of your life to that person or entity. Personal responsibility and personal action result in growth, freedom and progress toward your goals. In short, self-improvement means improving your ability to contribute to others, resulting in a sense of satisfaction.

I am told that prior to battle, the Tartar Tribes of Central Asia used to make a pronouncement over their enemies. It had nothing to do with their ability to overpower or wipe out their enemy in battle. Instead, their curse was, “May you stay in one place forever.” Their curse was that their enemy would stop learning, stop growing, and fail to improve. The Tartar Tribe was well aware that a person or group that fails to learn is slowly learning to fail.

And so it is with us. Unless and until we commit ourselves to learning, growing, contributing to the improvement of others and being better today than we were yesterday, we relegate our lives to the fate of the Tartar’s enemies – to be in one place forever.

Read a book, take a class, or ask for advice from someone who knows more about something than you do (for now). Actively engage in life for greater joy and a lasting impact on those around you.