Do you remember the last conference you attended? What was your takeaway? What ONE THING did you learn or change because of it?
What about the last book you read? Sermon you heard? Movie you watched? Person you visited with?
Every encounter we have with another, either in person or through story, is an opportunity to learn. But only if we have the eyes to see and ears to hear. (Jesus described those in his day who were oblivious to his teaching as lacking in these fundamental senses).
Most of the time, I confess, I don’t ask the takeaway question.
Sure, if I’ve paid money to attend a workshop or conference, I’ll ask myself if I got my money’s worth. But when it comes to other less formal opportunities for learning, I don’t often ask that question.
Take movies for instance. I enjoy watching a good movie, especially with my wife, Anna. We’ve watched our share of good and bad films. But it never fails to surprise me when, even days later, she asks me a question about a movie we watched, no matter how good or bad. She’ll comment on something I totally missed that, for her, ties to an important takeaway. Me? I was oblivious to the lesson and had moved on to other things. Her insights have always left me more enriched.
Perhaps that’s why I liked Ken Gire’s book, Windows of the Soul, so much. He has the kind of eyes that I don’t have to see God in many of the things I’m rather oblivious to. He, like Anna, have honed a takeaway habit by asking themselves, “What’s my takeaway?”
During one of my recent times of journaling, I asked myself that question of my closest friends. What is the one thing that I would tell another that I learned from each of my friends? At first, the question overwhelmed me. I wanted to skirt it and move on to something else. But I knew I had to lean into it and write until I sharpened my thinking to one thing for each of them.
When I put down my pen that morning, I felt stirred and awakened, the way I might after watching a powerful movie. These men have had an impact on me and, up to that point, I hadn’t taken the time to know why. Doing so, though, made me even more grateful to have them as friends.
But it also made me aware of something else, too. How many other lessons have I missed by not intentionally asking the takeaway question? Indeed, that morning I became aware that my need to hone a takeaway habit was my takeaway.
After reading this post, what’s your takeaway?