Looking back over the various contexts of service that I have served in, it’s easy to recognize that, at my best: I cultivate learners who create success for themselves and others. The qualities “limitless” and “unlimited” are a natural byproduct of creative potential of human beings.
Any great coaches, educators, or leaders that I have studied have exhibited passion, commitment, and action across four central themes:
1) Personal Learning
John C. Maxwell is famous for his mantra, “Leaders are learners.” The common sense from this statement is so deep it sounds shallow.
A person who is unblocked and emotionally available to enter the world with his or her senses IS a learner. Human beings are curious, creative, adventurous, playful, thoughtful, and genius. Any other state of humanity is a degradation of the whole.
The beginning of limitless learning is simply to embrace the prospects of being fully human. Personal learning isn’t the bedrock of my calling; it’s the fertile soil without rock or weed.
2) Relational Learning
Every pivotal achievement in my life is connected to another person who was learning and growing too.
I never finish an Ironman without the enthusiasm and encouragement of my friend Brett Wade, way back in high school. I never begin to ask good questions of the world around me without the persistent questions of college mentors like Shawn Sagert and Dave Schwartz.
The kind of people that I build relationships with directly impact my propensity to learn without limits.
3) Team Learning
In Peter Senge’s landmark book The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, the fourth discipline of the learning organization is “team learning.” He cites David Bohm, a quantum theorist, who sees thought as “largely a collective phenomenon.”
He writes, “As with electrons, we must look on thought as a systemic phenomenon arising from how we interact and discourse with one another.” The question is not if we ought to engage in team learning. The question is how we ought to engage in team learning.
4) Organizational Learning
Margaret Wheatley and Myron Kellner-Rogers, in their brilliant work A Simpler Way, write about the amazing phenomena of tower-building termites in Africa and Australia. The authors make a striking observation with breathtaking implications for our understanding of leadership.
“It took entymologists a long time to realize that there were no termite construction bosses,” they write. Wheatley and Kellner-Rogers observe that, “The system emerges as individuals freely work out conditions of life with their neighbors. No one worries about designing the system. Everyone concentrates on making sense of the relationships and needs that are vital to their existence.”
The exciting realization is, again, that organizational learning is always taking place. My role in cultivating limitless learners is shaped greatly through observation, clarity, support, and celebration of shared purpose.
Personal learning, relational learning, team learning, and organizational learning are four central themes that form a powerful platform for a lifestyle of cultivating limitless learners.