Learning


Why post about learning when there is already a post here about education? I suppose there is some subtle overlap yet when you drill down it’s helpful to think about how one might go about learning. One definition is this, “to gain or acquire knowledge of or skill in (something) by study, experience, or being taught.”

Two things jump out at me. The first is that when you learn you can acquire knowledge and/or skill. Knowledge and skills are different. If you want to do something you must not only have knowledge, you need the skills to do it. It is perfectly fine to gain knowledge about something without ever aspiring to have skills in something. This is worth understanding. The important point is, if you want to have skills in something you need to learn it and do it.

Secondly, in the definition is how someone learns. We learn by study, experience or by being taught. If someone truly wants to learn something all three methods need to be employed, especially if the end goal is to learn a skill.

Here are a few things to consider when you set out to learn something. Are you learning for knowledge only or are you also looking to acquire a skill. When you have it set in your head what you want the end result to be then you will want to determine how you are going to study, who is going to teach you and where you can get the experience.

Once you learn a skill then you will be just at the start of your journey in the pursuit of the perfection of that skill or at least to the level you set for yourself in your original goal.


Financial Professionals – Encouragement and a Challenge


I would like to offer a word of encouragement to all Financial Professionals. I also want to offer a word of challenge.

If there was a way to measure the amount of fear in the world it probably would register at all time high levels. Most people I am talking to are a combination of numb and scared. As financial professionals many of us are in the same boat. So much is uncertain because of the combination of not knowing how severe the health and financial impacts will be along with the unknown length of time this will last.

At the other end of all of this we all need to be at our best because our clients will need us to be better than we ever have been. So I want to encourage you take advantage of this moment. Most of us will have some extra time to make yourself better and plan for what you will be doing to help people recover. If your skills and knowledge have getting a little stale now is the time to sharpen the blade. If you’ve been meaning to learn something new now is the time to add to your knowledge, really learn it!

Think about what your clients will need coming out of this. Everyone of us must be different and better because everything has changed. Our message needs to change, our process needs to change and our vulnerability needs to change.

Okay I know that wasn’t much of an encouragement in the way we typically think. But it’s all I have right now.

Here is the challenge. Since people and businesses are going to need us at our best we are going to need to identify the professionals around us who are really good at something we are not. The solutions will come from Teams/Partnerships of financial professionals. We can’t fake it. This is our time to fix what has been broken in financial services. 

So figure out the range of services and products you want to offer and then build that team in anticipation of what will be needed to help people as we emerge from this crisis. Our clients are going to be different. Will we be different in the way they need us to be different?


Decisions


This is a tough word and originally it was not on my list of words to ponder, a list now grown to more than thirty and a list that will surely grow. We are all being forced to make decisions that are way more important than what we typically encounter. It seems like we have them in a pile in front of us and it is a bit overwhelming.

We can put off these decisions because that will only make things worse. Here are a few thoughts.

  • We are not alone, everyone in the world right now is having to make decisions.
  • We can’t make all of the decisions all at the same time.
  • Identify the most important decisions you have to make and put them in a category by themselves.
  • If you are stuck make one easy decision to get you going.
  • If you have to assign a number to each important decision and then randomly pick one.
  • Make your decision and act on it. You will know soon enough if it was the right thing to do. Taking action has some therapeutic value in itself.

In the book “The One Thing” a book I gave to Paul and he used it with the staff at Northwest Covenant Church, there is one central question in the book. This might help you in making decisions.

Remember, everyone is in the same boat right now. We are all making decisions. This is where I feel a ton of empathy for so many people right now, knowing that they are faced with some very tough decisions. We will be stronger when we start making them.


A Message to Business Owners

May 23, 2020


There are no answers to be found here today. Just about every business owner on the planet is going to have to wait for answers due to all of the uncertainty created by Covid-19. We are all at least a little scared. We are concerned for our family, our employees, our partners and our customers. We know people are going to get hurt and may never recover physically, mentally and financially. 

We are in this together and we hope there will be a time when the virus is behind us and we can start on the work of rebuilding and recovery.

But right now we know there are businesses that are closing their doors, laying off workers and it is causing incredible emotional pain. People are losing their jobs, income, insurance, homes and security. More emotional pain. It would be unhealthy to deny this right now. Nothing is normal.

While we cannot solve the immediate pain we can do our best AND we can start to prepare for our collective rebuilding. This is what I will be focusing on for maybe the rest of my life. Whoever we are today I know we must be better tomorrow. We must be the best that we can be. This is our time. If we step up, perhaps those that come after us will consider us to be another “Greatest Generation.”


Answers


March 23, 2020 – Right about now most of the people in the world are looking for answers. At a time when we desperately need answers there are almost none to our most pressing questions. We are looking for answers so we can make decisions and plan for today and tomorrow. The problem with looking for answers right now is we might be forced to wait for a long time. If we are waiting to make decisions until we get the answers we seek then we will be standing still in one place for far too long.

If we cannot get answers then what should we be thinking about? We should be seeking INSIGHT into what is going on in the world.

Definition of insight from Miriam-Webster

1: the power or act of seeing into a situation

2: the act or result of apprehending the inner nature of things or of seeing intuitively

Don’t seek answers, seek insight. It is from insight that answers are formed.


Change


No matter what, everyone of us is going to change over the days, weeks, months and possibly years that see us through to the other side of this current crisis. It is imperative we embrace the change that will happen and to let go of our old way of life. Resisting change only delays the inevitable and adds more risk.

Being willing to expect and embrace change will better equip us for the new world we will be living in after the human race sees an end to the Coronavirus pandemic. The world will different and we will need to be different as well.

What do we need to change?

  • How we define success
  • How we relate to family
  • How we relate to others
  • How we learn
  • Our flexibility
  • Our goals
  • Habits
  • Our relationship to our community
  • Our vision
  • Our plans

This is not an exhaustive list. The point here is that if we are the same after all of this, if we do not change we cannot grow, we will not thrive and will cease to be relevant. Our families, communities and the world need people who are unstuck.


Education


One of my favorite quotes of all time comes from Mahatma Gandhi. Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” The disruption in our lives created by the uncertainty of the virus gives many of us more time to do something. This is a chance to learn, to expand our education, to change how we think.

When all of the turmoil subsides or at least stabilizes we all need to be prepared to contribute more to heal our country, our world. Whenever that is, if we still have the same way of thinking then we have failed. Get educated during this time. If you need to learn new skills, learn them. If you need to have a better understanding about economics, learn it.

At that time that life starts feeling like life again make sure you are different so you can make a difference.


Empathy


This is, at least to me the most difficult words in the English language. Too often it is confused with “sympathy” and they aren’t even close. Empathy is a constant challenge and it takes work. Rather than trying to explain something myself and screw it up you will be better served watching this short Brené Brown video on Empathy.

Empathy requires engagement, not just flowers and it is Empathy that fuels connection. But Empathy can hurt, it can cause pain. It is hard looking people in the eye as they are losing their business, losing their retirement dreams, losing family members and their faith.

Right now the world can benefit from Empathy more than anything else. If you have Empathy you have a better chance of knowing what someone needs at the right time. There is joy in Empathy too. Paul Thompson had true joy for someone else’s good fortune even if it did not include him at that moment. It is one of his traits that influences my thinking and focus.

The purest form of Empathy is when you encounter someone who is 180 degrees opposed to how you think, how you believe. Can we have Empathy for people so different from us? I am not sure because I cannot sort it out in my head. Take some time and explore this subject. This world needs Empathy as much as it ever has at any time in history. The goal is to come out the other side of this better than we are now. I do not believe this is possible if we do not grapple with this most difficult word. In many ways Empathy is the equivalent to the Apostle Paul’s assertion about love in I Corinthians 13.