I know that most of us are no longer in school but that doesn't mean we shouldn't be learning – – constantly!
Let me ask you an important question “How often are you learning?” The first time I was asked this questions I was caught off guard. I thought to myself, “I am not currently enrolled in a class and I don't often take webinars … What do you mean ‘how often am I learning?’”
But as I sat and pondered the question I realized that I love learning and I actually do it often! I hadn't realized all of the different ways I was learning and that doing so “feeds” me in unimaginable ways.
I firmly believe that we should spend some time, every single day, learning! What that means to you may be different than what it means to me and that's ok! One more thought on learning, adults often assume that learning is only related to business stuff but I would not even begin to limit it to that I have gotten some of my most powerful inspiration from non-business related learning.
These days, I am constantly recommending books, podcasts, websites, plays, etc to clients and friends. After giving a keynote speech recently, one of the audience members asked me what my favorite podcasts were and they were shocked to learn that none of my “favorites” were business related.
I have also discovered that I really love connection and storytelling (yes, that explains a lot about my career choices). I like to read, listen to and watch things that feel authentic and real to me. I don't spend time on “how to's” or tutorials. I want to learn about real-world experience for real and relatable people. This has been a big lesson for me and one that I have taken to heart in my coaching, speaking and writing.
What we are learning offers us an unusual opportunity for meaningful connection. When you are deep in conversation with someone and you think, “Oh! Have you read this book?” it means you want to offer something to them — a gift of sorts. I am always grateful for people who make suggestions for new media that they believe will resonate with me. Clearly, these are new ways to learn.
I thought it would be fun to share a few of my favorite things with you — books that I have read, podcasts I have listened to, blogs and websites that continue to connect with me. I hope you find some inspiration in these pieces. They are just a small sampling of the different ways in which I learn but it is my gift to you. May you learn something today that opens your life up to new and exciting opportunities.
Books: I love reading. I didn't always love reading. As a young child, I fought reading tooth and nail. When I was 12, my Aunt Kimmi introduced me to romance novels. It is so funny to think of it now but let’s not spend time passing judgment on a 12-year-old reading romance novels! Those historical romance novels are what started me down a path towards a deep love of reading and learning and it created a passion for history (pun totally intended). I took five English classes during my senior year in high school and majored in creative writing in college.
As you can imagine, with two businesses, a podcast, and four kids, I rarely have time for picking up a book these days. That makes me sad because I love the way they smell and the way they feel in my hand. But I don't let that stop me! Lately, I have fallen in love with audiobooks — especially those read by the author. No more excuses.
Oh, Shonda Rhimes. I listened to Year of Yes on Audible and I can truly say it changed me. It gave me a new perspective on so many things. As Shonda read the last line of the book, I instantly wanted to start the whole thing over again. If you have not experienced this book yet, run don't walk.
“I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.” – Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes
Anyone who knows me well knows I adore Gone With The Wind. It is my favorite movie and my favorite book. The romance, the fierceness, the fight, and drive. The strong female characters (yes, there are more than one). I even have two daughters named after actresses or characters in the book. Just read it; it's a classic!
“After all, tomorrow is another day.” – Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With The Wind
The Book Thief This beautiful and moving book touched me in so many ways. It is magically written and connects on such a deep level. The narrator of the book is Death. Yes, you read that correctly. Death is the narrator. And Death speaks in color. An old colleague introduced me to this book and I am forever grateful to her for it.
“Usually we walk around constantly believing ourselves. ‘I'm okay’ we say. ‘I'm alright’. But sometimes the truth arrives on you and you can't get it off. That's when you realize that sometimes it isn't even an answer–it's a question. Even now, I wonder how much of my life is convinced.” ― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief
Oh, Brené Brown. What a magical person she is. She gets it. Truly, she does. This may not surprise you but I recommend all of her books. I especially loved Daring Greatly. I read it during the most difficult time in my life. A time when I was making really major decisions and bravely choosing to live my authentic truth. As I was embracing bravery and vulnerability in their truest forms, this book helped me along the way.
“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” – Brené Brown, Daring Greatly
And finally, we come to a “business” book. Leadership and Self-Deception, while it is not the most eloquently written book, has a powerful message. It has reshaped how I view myself, others and the world around me. It is a short and easy read.
“Self-deception is like this. It blinds us to the true causes of problems, and once we’re blind, all the ‘solutions’ we can think of will actually make matters worse. Whether at work or at home, self-deception obscures the truth about ourselves, corrupts our view of others and our circumstances, and inhibits our ability to make wise and helpful decisions.” ― The Arbinger Institute, Leadership and Self-Deception: Getting Out of the Box
Podcasts: I love podcasts! They meet so many of my needs. They afford me the opportunity to learn and grow. They even allow me to escape reality. Below are several of my favorites. I could not list them all; that would be impossible. I will also make a little plug here for NPR One. Many of these podcasts can be found there. Also, please support National Public Radio. As a nation, we truly need it!
UPDATE: Since originally writing this post, I have started my own podcast. If you haven't already listened to The Brave Files, please subscribe now. You can listen anywhere you enjoy podcasts and I think you will love the stories of everyday people living brave and courageous lives.
Blogs and websites: I love getting new ideas and even having old ideas re-confirmed. Below are three fantastic sites that feature all sorts of articles written about everything from starting a business to eating healthy. Some of my favorite tips have come from the sites below!
Even theater! Last but not least, I have to mention THEATER! It just feels too relevant to leave it out … As you may already know (I mean, it is even listed in my official bio!) am a serious theater girl. I have loved the theater since I was a tiny child. That said, nothing has been as moving, educational or relevant as Hamilton: An American Musical. Seriously, friends, it combines nearly all of my favorite things: history, music, and theater! I cannot imagine there is anyone out there who has not heard of or seen Hamilton, but if you haven't, stop reading right now and download the soundtrack.
To my utter delight, this musical exposed me to new forms of learning on nearly every level. My musical knowledge grew, my historical knowledge deepened and my connection with my 12-year-old became even stronger (we seriously connected on this one). It would be an understatement to say that the life lessons I have learned from Hamilton were small. They were, in fact, powerful and they continue to push and challenge me.
“If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?” – Lin-Manuel Miranda, Hamilton