Every so often, my iPhone requests a system update.  I love the option that offers this update to occur at night when I’m sleeping (that Steve Jobs thought of everything…RIP). These internal improvements and bug fixes offer new features and let’s me do even more with my phone.  The upgrades are essential to prevent crashes and slower access to apps and other features.  They make my phone more efficient and effective on so many levels.

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We are not much different.  In order to update and improve ourselves, we must designate time to consistently learn.  Unfortunately we don’t have a night time uploading feature (dang you Steve Jobs, so you didn’t think of everything!).

You may have heard the saying, “You are either getting better or you are getting worse”…or, “You are either growing or dying.”  Those both sound pretty harsh, but I believe that both comments are true.  You want to win in life and be the best version of you?…then you need to invest in yourself by making time to learn new things, thoughts, philosophies, skills, and technologies – you need a continual system upgrade.

So, how can you do it?  Time is limited.  You have work or school.  You might have work AND school.  You have a family and kids to tend to.  You have to keep the house clean.  You have yard chores.  You are tired, yada yada yada.  We all have 168 hours in a week.  Take away sleep and work/school (100 hours) and we have 68 hours left.  How are you prioritizing your time to make sure that you are improving your knowledge, bettering your craft, learning something new, or getting inspired?

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On a random side note that doesn’t really fit, but I need to include….For my money, intelligence is very attractive.  What sealed the deal for me and Kendra was her brain.  You want to improve your sex appeal?…get smarter.  You want to keep your loved one engaged and in tune with you…get smarter.  You want to have influence on others…get smarter.  Ok, back to the originally planned content.

Accessing information is easier now than ever before.  There are Kindles, Nooks, iPads, Sony Readers, and other tablets to access books.  There are podcasts you can download.  For you iPhone users, there is even a podcast app that you can search topics and have access to a never ending supply of information.  I’m getting into TEDtalks (TED is short for Technology, Entertainment, and Design), which are video podcasts of the best talks and performances from the TED Conference each year (talks are limited to 18 minutes or less)…did I mention there’s an app for that?


Here has been my formula for learning information:  I listen to audio books or podcasts in one of two places… 1) while I drive for work or 2) when I workout.  I read books before I go to bed, travel on an airplane, or when Kendra is working in her office…I have a cozy comfy chair there.

I give myself $40 per month to download at least one audio book and one physical book (either on my iPad or hard copy). iTunes or Amazon have all the books and audio books you could ever need.  I manage a large territory covering multiple states, so I don’t know how I would survive without this technology.  If your commute isn’t very long, let me offer another strategy…listen while you workout.  For my lifestyle, this is an ideal place to get smarter and more buff (just kidding, getting buff not so much, I prefer “toned”).  Here you kill two birds with one stone…get healthy and more intelligent at the SAME TIME!  If the gym or lifting weights isn’t your thing, then you can go on a walk, a bike ride, or maybe Prancercising is your thing, it really doesn’t matter…just get more creative in how you can absorb new information to better yourself.

Here are 3 areas to consider that will have a direct impact on your competence: what are you reading, what are you listening to, and who are you talking to?  Aside from books, audio books, and podcasts, what are you watching on TV and who do you surround yourself with?  I just talked about the importance of mentorship.  Learning from other people in your life is as essential, maybe more essential than reading a book.

Think about forming a small group that you can meet with once a month.  I have belonged to multiple small groups either through my church or through an informal small group with friends from school and playing athletics.  We call our meetings “3F”: Faith, Food, and Fellowship.  In the fall, it turns into 4F’s: Faith, Food, Football, and Fellowship (oh how I miss John Gruden).  We meet one Monday night a month and watch Monday Night Football (or a basketball game) over a meal.  Every guy takes turns hosting, while we catch up on how things are going as husbands, fathers, and contributors to our community (we are on a little hiatus, but we have plans to meet again soon).  These experiences – learning and sharing have been transformational for me as a father, husband, and friend.  Forming accountability groups like this have the potential to be life changing for you.  Life is better lived in community, and not alone…these groups foster fantastic learning environments.


Here’s My Learning Challenge: read or listen to at least one book per month for the next 12 months (12 books…you can do it *see my top 10 list below).  Try out some other methods and places (car, gym, bus, train, outdoors) to achieve this goal.  If you haven’t, download and listen to an audio book.  Try dabbing into Podcasts as well.  One of my favorite things to listen to are sermons from my favorite pastors via podcasts (Judah Smith, Chad Veach, Carl Lentz, John Gray)…maybe give that a shot if you need some spiritual motivation.

My second challenge is to get involved in a small group that meets regularly.  Learning from peers and growing your relationships will make life that much sweeter, and hey, you could learn a thing or two from people who are going through what you are going through (mom’s groups, single women’s groups, men’s groups, church groups, etc.).  Take the initiative and get after it!  In order to create change, we need to be intentional with our thoughts and actions…its time to take action!  You won’t regret it!

*Project Rise Top 10 Book List (in no particular order):

  • Love Does, Bob Goff
  • The Go-Giver, Bob Burg, and John David Mann
  • The Secret, Rhonda Byrne
  • The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor
  • The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
  • Positive Intelligence, Shirzad Chamine
  • Win Forever, Pete Carroll
  • David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell
  • The One Thing, Gary Keller
  • Unreasonable Hope, Chad Veach
G Disain