One thing that stands out to me as I interact with people later in their lives is that those who have spent their years continually learning and improving themselves exhibit many impressive characteristics that I hope to have in my own life.
Wisdom, humility, gentleness, confidence, servant leadership. The list of the admirable attributes of a life-long learner is never-ending. However, continuous learning most definitely does not happen by accident. It is an intentional choice.
Like so many life-long habits, continuous learning builds upon itself in an exponential way. Meaning that from age 20 to 40 or from age 40 to 80, your knowledge, wisdom, humility, graciousness, etc., should not simply double, it should triple, quadruple, or more. Due to this exponential change in character, there exists an obvious difference in the life-long learner’s character and success as opposed to someone who has casually let life pass them by.
I should clarify that when I speak of life-long learning, I am not speaking of “book” learning in the traditional academic sense. Although this is a small piece of life-long learning, and books are most definitely one of the best resources available to move your knowledge forward quickly, what I am talking about is much more. I am talking about gaining true wisdom, saturated with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. This may be a bit preachy for others who may read this letter, but I am writing it for you my son, and this is the blueprint we have been given for a joyful life. Learning cannot be an end in itself, otherwise life is futile.
Cultivating joy in life-long learning means learning to read, listen, act, and reflect.
Read and listen to what others have done so that you don’t make the same mistakes. Take action by putting your knowledge to work. Then, reflect on the results of your actions. Be excited when you fail, big or small, knowing that it is a priceless opportunity to jump forward in your wisdom, if you are humble enough to learn from it. You will look back on your life and realize that the times when you grew the most were when you responded well to failures or difficult situations.
Being a life-long learner brings excitement and opportunity to everyday life and makes your future unpredictable, in a very good way.