Lifelong learning. After God, and my family and friends, being a lifelong learner is my next most important priority. Why? Because I always feel like I have room for improvement. When I apply new knowledge to live life more effectively, I am certain my influence is more positive. That is the goal, the dream, the purpose. To influence this world for good before my time is done.
As we raise kids who we hope will be a positive influence, let’s remember that it is also important to raise lifelong learners. Here are three things we are doing to encourage lifelong learning:
Read, Read and Read Some More.
Before both of my children were born, I set a goal to read to them EVERY DAY. I know now, having an almost 3-year old and an almost 1-year old that reading to both of them every day is quite a challenge and on some days, completely unrealistic. But, it is a priority for us. My 3-year old craves our time reading together. And this makes my heart warm because some of the greatest leaders I know, life John Maxwell and Michael Hyatt, have made it clear that great leaders are great readers. I hope this is setting up a lifelong love of reading.
Be a Role Model.
My mother role-modeled lifelong learning better than anyone I know. She was a single mom and somehow found the energy to devote herself to a rigorous MBA program at the Simon Business School while working full-time and being our mom. When I graduated high school, she graduated from her MBA program.
One of my greatest delights was being able to share a party with her and learn from her the importance of lifelong learning. I also had the privilege of attending Ithaca College, where lifelong learning is highly valued and modeled.
My husband and I are always saying things like “I need to do better with that” or “Maybe we can learn together how to get that done”. It is important for our girls to know that we do not know everything, but are ready and willing to learn. This not only inspires a lifelong learning mindset, but it shows our children that they too can learn how to do new things.
Role-modeling lifelong learning also requires humility, a willingness to admit when we are wrong, and the courage to pick ourselves up, learn something new and change the way we do things. I am the MASTER at fearing change, but it is only through growth and change that our lives become more meaningful and influence more positive. Can we do this, with courage, for our kids?
Live in Authentic Relationships.
In my experience, one of the key characteristics of people who do not want to learn is that they isolate or hide part of themselves even from those who are closest to them. It makes sense, really. When we isolate ourselves, we do not have to face our areas of weakness. Instead, we can live in the comfort zone of not changing.
Not changing might feel easy sometimes, but are we living fully? I might be one of the most introverted people I know (in other words, I love my alone time), but honestly, I would not be the woman I am today without some key relationships. My best friend from college, for example, loved me unconditionally. I was quiet, but she did not let me stew in isolation. She inspired me to not hide.
My husband gives me the freedom to be authentic all the time and loves me through my good and bad moments. For example, when he catches me complaining about anything, he doesn’t let me stew in unproductive thoughts. He basically tells me to do something about it or quit complaining. He inspires me to take action in the most loving way possible. And when I do, I am a better person as a result.
Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” When our kids see us living in authentic relationships in which we make each other better by “sharpening” each other through our honest and kind interactions, they are learning the importance of finding “safe people” with whom to live and grow. This is an area where I need improvement. I read and TRY to respond humbly when my husband challenges me in an area where I could use improvement, but I need to be more purposeful in relationships.
I heard today of the passing of sweet Kara Tippetts, whose battle with cancer has been very public. She has left a legacy of living in authentic relationships with LOVE and KINDNESS. She loved so deeply through her life and words. I am a little speechless today, and cannot express the enormity of her influence on even just THIS LIFE, not to mention the thousands upon thousands of others who read her blog and followed her story. Can I encourage you to learn from her how to live authentically? She has two wonderful books that I highly recommend. One is called The Hardest Peace and the other, Big Love, which is only $2.99 in Kindle version. These books will continue to bless others for many years to come.
What about you? How can you become a more purposeful lifelong learner? How are you inspiring your kids to become lifelong learners? Share your ideas so we can all learn from each other!