My last post discussed the difference between those who camp and those who explore. Explorers are inquisitive; stretching the boundaries of their experience to learn more. Campers are complacent; preferring the comfort of camp to the discomfort of the unknown. It isn’t that campers are unwilling to try things. They do—but only when necessary.
The primary difference between an explorer and a camper is one of intention. The explorer sees a learning opportunity in every person they meet, challenge they encounter, or set-back they experience. Campers, on the other hand, are primarily driven to return things to normal as quickly as possible. When trouble arises, they consider what God might be trying to teach them, but only because they think by learning it their problems will vanquish. They see learning as price they pay to get back to camp.
Once safely back at camp, only two things can be learned: self-trust and self-interest. Together, they form a container of self-preservation; and an ever diminishing one, at that. As John Ruskin put it, “When a man is wrapped up in himself, he makes a pretty small package.”
If we really believe that we are on a great God-given adventure, then we must break camp on our complacency. Four strategies will help:
- Get in the company of other explorers. If you want to think like an explorer, ask yourself, “Who do I know that constantly strives to learn new things?” Then spend more time with them. As Jim Rohn observed, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
- Read outside your specialty. We all get in learning grooves. Left unchecked they become ruts. Mix it up. If you read from a particular genre, choose another. Explore the many Ted talks available, or join a social network you’ve not explored before. For more ideas, read today’s coincidental Copyblogger post on 7 Ways to Get Smarter.
- Teach something. Teaching and coaching are among the most effective ways to learn. The good news is you don’t need to be asked to teach. You can use the technique I discussed in an earlier post to improve your thinking about any subject.
- Write something. I’ve written often about the power of journaling; simply, because it works. Every serious explorer keeps a log book. You should too. If you’re new to journaling, read Why I gave journaling another try. It may help you jump start your own journaling.
Breaking camp is easy once we become aware of our complacency—once we notice it’s been a long time since we’ve read something that stretched our thinking. Or taught someone that made us rethink a subject. Or recorded something that caught us by surprise. Or had our thinking challenged by others.
Yes. Breaking camp is easy, but only explorers do so.
What strategies have you found to keep you on the sharp edge of learning?