Monday, February 15, 2016

Make the Most of Your Mind

"The empires of the future are the empires of the mind." ~ Winston Churchill

Much has been written about the mind. We change it, we lose it -- and far too often, we give others a piece of it. But how much time do we really spend in developing it? In the fast-paced world in which we live, the number of messages and images that flood our brain and work their way to the conscious and subconscious mind are staggering. But are they helpful or even useful? I believe a strong argument can be made that some are downright harmful. When you take a careful look around, what do you see? Are people happier? Friendlier? More hopeful? I'm afraid the answer is no. In fact, I strongly believe that while most people desire to live a life of meaning and purpose, many have just given up. The economy, the present state of government, and other factors have soured a great many people that once had great dreams.

What can be done about it? Increase the amount of available information? I think not. Orrin Woodward says that today; "we are information rich and wisdom poor." It is not more information that it is needed. Why add more oil and sludge to a river of information that is already horribly polluted? What is truly needed is a reliable path that leads us back to purpose, character, integrity, meaningful friendships, and personal and leadership development principles that can shape our destiny and determine our legacy. In short, we all want to leave this earth and know that what we did mattered to someone. And while meaningful legacy means different things to different people, there is a common foundation we can build on: Good information, good people, a forum to discuss and learn, and daily implementation.

For more than three years, I've participated in a weekly lunchtime book club designed to help its members grow both personally and professionally. Working as a small group, we've learned the importance of disciplined reading, critical thinking, and honest open discussion about what we've read. Perhaps most important, we've learned a whole lot about each other, including our goals, dreams, fears, and how we would like to be remembered. Collectively, we have read books that we may never read or choose on an individual basis -- and I can honestly say I have learned something valuable and useful from every one of them -- and I've been able to put the information into action for the benefit of myself, and more importantly for the benefit of others. I believe the members of our group would say the same. 

What about you? What information are you allowing in or purposely seeking out? Who are the people that you are spending time with, learning from, and from whom you take counsel? Do you have a forum to meet regularly for the purpose of meaningful discussion, relationship building and accountability? What changes are possible for you in just such an environment -- and who can be helped by such changes?

I challenge you to look at the information you're taking in and make effective and intentional reading a daily habit. I encourage you to seek out like-minded people and form a small group. If possible, include someone who is a little farther ahead on the journey and who has already made daily reading a priority. Seek book recommendations from leaders you trust and begin the journey. I'd be happy to suggest some great books that can help get you started.

Let's be intentional in our learning and development -- and work to develop an active mind. Then, maybe the next time we give someone a piece of our mind, it will be for the purpose of building up and strengthening them -- and the legacy we ultimately leave behind.