From Chapter 9 “Learning” in Ingredients of Outliers.
The Books You Read
Reading is another great way to continue the learning process. Back in Chapter 6, I introduced you to the late, great motivational speaker, Charlie “Tremendous” Jones. In addition to his speaking career, Jones was the CEO of Executive Books, a company he founded in 1966. Books were his passion and everywhere he went he’d proclaim: “You’re the same today as you’ll be five years from now except for two things, the people you meet and the books you read.”
Over the years, his company, recently renamed Tremendous Life Books, has had cumulative sales well in excess of $100 million. He personally gave away countless thousands of books. “I hand them out instead of business cards,” he said. “People may throw cards away, but they’re unlikely to do the same with books.”
In a long-ago letter to a young grandson, he offered this advice:
A proper diet is good for your body and the best books are good for your mind. Your life will be determined by the people you associate with and the books you read. Many people you’ll come to love will be met in books. Read biographies, autobiographies, and history. Your books will provide all the friends, mentors, role models and heroes you’ll ever need.
Biographies will help you see there is nothing that can happen to you that wasn’t experienced by many who used their failures, disappointments, and tragedies as stepping-stones to a more tremendous life. Many of my best friends are people I’ve never met: Oswald Chambers, George Mueller, Charles Spurgeon, A.W. Tozer, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, François Fenelon, Jean Guyon, and hundreds of others.
About reading, his message to just about everyone he met was the same: “Don’t read to be big, read to be down to earth. Don’t read to be smart, read to be wise. Don’t read to memorize, read to realize. Don’t read to just learn, read to sometimes unlearn. Don’t read a lot, read just enough to keep yourself curious and hungry, to learn more, to keep getting younger as you grow older.”
There you have them—the keys to becoming a lifelong learner: asking good questions and reading good books.
Food For Thought
- Read, read, read. No matter the book, only good will come from it.
- Take classes-You need to get used to learning. Even if it’s the most elementary obtuse subject matter, you will get something out of it.
- Let you kids actively teach you. This gives them a situation within which to shine, let’s you determine their progress, and allows you to be learner and a teacher.
In Other Words
You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives.
~ Clay P. Bedford
Learning should be a joy and full of excitement. It is life’s greatest adventure; it is an illustrated excursion into the minds of the noble and the learned.
~ Taylor Caldwell
I began my education at a very early age –in fact, right after I left college.
~ Winston Churchill
Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.
~ Henry Doherty
Education would be much more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they do not know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it.
~ Sir William Haley
The future belongs to the learners – not the knowers. In times of massive change, it’s the learner who will inherit the earth, while the learned stay elegantly tied to a world which no longer exists.
~ Eric Hoffer
Always walk through life as if you have something new to learn and you will.
~ Vernon Howard
We never stop growing until we stop learning, and people who are learning this simple truth will grow old but never get old.
~ Charlie “Tremendous” Jones
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma.
~ Eartha Kitt
Never be too big to ask questions, never know too much to learn something new.
~ Og Mandino
The best educated people are those who are always learning, always absorbing knowledge from every possible source and at every opportunity.
~ Orison Swett Marden
At the simplest level, only people who know they do not know everything will be curious enough to find things out.
~ Virginia Postrel
Never become so much of an expert that you stop gaining expertise. View life as a continuous learning experience.
~ Denis Waitley
Life can be one dreary day after another or a Baghdad of fascinating things to keep learning. Get more out of every phase of your life –stay incurably curious.
~ L. Perry Wilbur
Only the curious will learn and only the resolute overcome the obstacles to learning. The quest quotient has always excited me more
than the intelligence quotient.
~ Eugene S. Wilson