4 Reasons They Don’t Want to Learn… and 5 Suggestions

I’ve learned in leadership:

You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.

It is true. Perhaps you’ve tried. I’ve been worn out trying to teach principles I know someone needs to learn…everyone can see they need them…but they seem to ignore them. They keep making the same mistakes. They never seem to catch on. They never seem to learn. It doesn’t even seem they want to. Many times it’s because they don’t.

It can be frustrating, but sometimes the person who doesn’t want to learn is me. Sometimes it’s you.

It’s not only in leadership. It’s true with all of life. Some people simply don’t want to learn. They aren’t teachable at the moment.

I’ve discovered that the reasons someone isn’t willing to learn may not always be the same. The reason may not always be what we think it is. In fact, there may be several reasons.

Here are 4 reasons people may not want to learn:

They don’t think they need to learn anything – This is the one that frustrates us the most, and it’s the one we accuse people of the most. It’s true, arrogance is common in leadership, but also among those who need to be led. Many leaders feel they are in a position because they are the only ones who could do the job. Everyone around them may know that’s not true, but they can’t see it. They don’t care to learn from others, because they aren’t willing to admit or see they have anything to learn. Sometimes those who still have much to learn are too proud to admit it.

They don’t know they need to learn anything – It may sound similar, but this is a different reason. It isn’t arrogance than causes this one, but rather ignorance. We’ve all been there at times. Many times I’ve assumed I had the answers already. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested in learning more…I just didn’t know there was more to learn. I’ve said before, the older I get the more I realize I don’t know yet. Some of that comes with maturity and age. Some of it comes with experience. But, many times we don’t think we need to know anything new, because we don’t see enough problem with what we already know.

They don’t want to learn from you – This is a hard one for leaders to accept, but it’s actually quite common. It could be a relational issue or a positional issue…it might simply be a personality clash, but for whatever reason, it keeps them from desiring to learn from you. As a parent, there were seasons when my boys learned more from others than they did from me. I welcomed that and was appreciative of those who spoke into their life. This has been true also when someone was supposed to be leading me, but I knew more about a subject. It takes a very humble person to learn from those you’re supposed to be leading. I’ve had times when someone on my team hears the same thing at a conference I’d been saying for months. It sticks coming from someone new. Don’t be offended if they aren’t always listening to you, but make sure they are listening to someone.

They want to learn on their own – There’s nothing wrong with this, as long as they remain teachable. In fact, it should be encouraged at times. Some of the best lessons in life come from trying something and succeeding or failing. If they aren’t being arrogant, give them the freedom to explore independent of you. It will help you, them and the organization.

But, regardless of the reason….

You can’t teach someone who doesn’t want to learn.

That’s why the best leaders I know…the best teachers…the best parents…

Spend as much time motivating the learner as they do teaching them.

In the book “Switch”, authors Dan and Chip Heath call it “motivating the elephant”. Your job as a leader, if you desire people to want to learn from you, or even from others, is to motivate them to want to learn.

How do you do that?

If you want people to listen to you:

Here are 5 suggestions:

Value the person – No one follows someone willingly who they don’t believe cares for them. Zig Ziglar’s famous line “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care” is true. Don’t expect people to want to learn from you until they know you have their best interest at stake and that you care for them personally; not simply what they can do for you or the organization.

Paint a great vision – You have to give people something worth following. It needs to stretch them, while still being attainable by risk, faith and hard work. When they know there’s a glimmer of hope to the finish line, they’ll be more willing to learn what it takes to attain it.

Communicate it frequently – Even the best vision fades over time. People get bored. Andy Stanley uses the phrase “vision leaks”. If you want to maintain your audience of followers, you have to keep reminding them why you are doing what you are doing.

Tell compelling stories – People are motivated by example. They want to know that what they are doing makes a difference. People will be more likely to seek your input if they know you are leading them to something of value and importance.

Share in the reward – People only feel valued when they get to celebrate the victory. If all the recognition goes to the leader, the follower feels taken advantage of to some degree. If you want people to keep listening…listen to them…share the credit…celebrate often.

What other ways have you found to get people to want to learn from you?

Building a Platform: Introducing Michael Hyatt’s New Book

The tension between self promotion and effectiveness in ministry is huge.

As a pastor, I am conscious of appearing to build a platform for my own self interests. Being online as much as I am is a struggle for those who don’t understand my Kingdom purpose. Of course, some are looking to criticize any pastor who uses non-traditional methods. My online presence makes me even more prone to attract critics. I have to not only be careful what I say, but the way I say it. For example, if I use the term “my church” I get criticized by some who gently (sometimes not so gently) remind me that it’s not my church, but Jesus’ church.

Okay, okay, I hear you, but regardless of the methods we use, God has given us responsibility in Kingdom-building; in disciple-making. I personally recognize the opportunities we now have to use our influence in social media to advance the cause of Christ online. I’ve been doing online ministry for over 15 years, and as with anything I do, I want to do it to the best of my ability. Scripture is clear that whatever we do, we should do it to the glory of God. Being effective online means I need to build a platform from which to leverage that online influence to the highest potential. Therein also lies the tension.

That’s why I find Michael Hyatt‘s new book Platform to be especially helpfulto pastors and anyone else wanting to use their influence for good. Whether as a pastor, a non-profit leader, or an individual who wants to advance a worthy cause, the insight Michael offers in Platform will help you build a better and bigger audience and allow you to make the most of your God-given talents. Michael not only knows how to build a strong platform, but, having sat with him and heard his heart, he lives his life with Kingdom purpose. I can learn from a guy with that underlying motivation.

Honestly, I’ve said consistently, if I could leave my name off my blog I would, but people today need to know who is behind a message. For that, one needs a platform. Michael helps you do that.

Michael is the master of platform building, having built his personal brand to an exceptional level over the last few years. Michael has positioned himself as an expert in social media and leadership. Much of that has come through his willingness to invest in others, which is how I became familiar with Michael. I’ve been blessed by our time together and his investment in me.

It should come as no surprise that with the launch of Platform, Michael would want to give his readers more. For those who purchase the book between May 21 and midnight on May 25, Mike is giving away $375.98 in bonus resources for Platform. Wow! How do you beat that deal?

Build your platform now. Buy Michael’s book HERE.

Do you ever balance building a platform to leverage influence versus simply promoting yourself?

Taking Initiative

This is a guest post by Joey Berrios. Joey is an educator, writer, and designer. You can read his blog at joeyberrios.com. He is the author of Addicted To Love.

Taking Initiative

We all have the fear of rejection. We all have the fear of putting ourselves out there. We all have the fear of taking a risk. We all have the fear of failing. We all have a part of ourselves that wants to play it safe and hold back when it comes to our personal creativity and innovation.

Seth Godin says the following about our fear of taking initiative in his book Poke The Box: “The simple thing that separates successful individuals from those who languish is the very thing that separates exciting and growing organizations from those that stagnate and die. The winners have turned initiative into a passion and a practice. The challenge, it turns out, isn’t in perfecting your ability to know when to start and when to stand by. The challenge is getting into the habit of starting.”

Fear holds us back from personal breakthroughs and innovation. Fear keeps us from speaking up when we have a great idea. Fear keeps us from creating something beautiful that can enhance the lives of others. Fear causes us to be mediocre. If we are not careful, fear can rob us of our creativity and passion. By playing it safe, we rob ourselves of the difference we can truly make as leaders in the lives of others.

One of the greatest qualities of a leader is the ability to take initiative. A great leader does not wait to be told what to do: he finds what needs to be done and does it. A great leader understands that he must fight to keep himself from being controlled by fear and doubt.

Examine the following quotes from a few of our world’s great leaders:

“Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” -Conrad Hilton (Hilton Hotels)

The right man is the one who seizes the moment.” -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I have not.” -Lucille Ball

“An idea is worthless unless you use it.” -John Maxwell

Is there a project you have been dragging your feet on? Is there an idea that you are passionate about? Is there a goal that you want to accomplish? Don’t let fear keep you from taking the necessary steps to reach your desired future. Yes, you will have haters. Yes, your ideas might not always workout the way that you planned. But what option do you really have? You cannot afford to do nothing. You must step out and take a risk. You must take initiative and bring your dream to life.

Success comes to those who are extraordinary. There are far too many people who are playing it safe in our world today. Our world needs leaders who are willing to take the risks necessary to bring their ideas to life. Playing it safe and refusing to take risks will only chain us to mediocrity. By taking initiative, we can begin to see our creativity and innovation make an impact on our world.

Where in your life do you most need to take initiative?

10 Questions to Evaluate Your Personal Progress

This week every year, I review my personal progress for the year. Would you like to play along?

Here are some examples of questions I ask myself:

  • What did I do that worked well?
  • What did I attempt that didn’t work?
  • Did I meet my goals?
  • What could I do better with a little tweaking?
  • What should I stop doing so I can do other things?
  • Where is my time most being wasted?
  • What discipline do I most need to implement into my day?
  • What was my most memorable moment?
  • What drains my energy just to think about doing again?
  • What changes do I need to make?

Are you playing?

Here’s to a great 2012!

Laying the Groundwork for Change

I once asked one of my mentor pastors, (make sure you have one of those) who is in his 90’s now, how he was able to implement major changes in a large, traditional church. (If you’ve never tried it…trust me…it’s not easy.) He had a history of successfully leading churches and I knew he had surely faced opposition to change.

His advice was simple, yet profound.

After he had prayerfully decided change was needed, he said he always laid his groundwork first. Before he took an item to the church, or even a governing body (in this case a body of deacons), he always had meetings with key people to introduce the change, gain input, and solicit support. He asked himself, “Who is influential within certain circles? Who can ‘kill the deal’? Who can ‘make it happen’? Who can make the change even better?”

Then, using some of the ideas generated and the support already built, he attempted to implement the change.

I’ve never forgotten that advice.

Sometimes the meetings before the meeting are the most important.

When you are convinced change is necessary and prayerfully landed on a direction you feel is best, build a core group of supporters for your idea first. Flesh it out with people you trust and who are influential with other people. Even be willing to adjust your ideas to make them better and stronger. Then attempt to tackle the change.

You’ll find yourself with a greater success rate.

What tips do you have for implementing change?

Christmas Flash Mob

According to YouTube, Journey of Faith performed a Christmas “Flash Mob” at the South Bay Galleria in Redondo Beach on December 18, much to the delight of local shoppers.

One of the best I’ve ever seen…don’t miss the ending.

Ever been a part of a flash mob? Would you like to be?

(Thanks to @MaxLucado for pointing me to this one.)

Dreams, Goals and Plans


Far reaching, seemingly impossible, worthwhile, dependent on faith and huge personal risk, with no guarantee of success.


Defined aspects of realizing the dream. Attainable, stretching and measurable.


Action steps written to systematically complete goals. Assigned, scheduled and accountable.

It won’t be easy, there may be moments of despair, disappointments and setbacks along the way…you’ll need to learn prayer and patience like never before…but sometimes breaking down the terms makes the path seem clearer. Perhaps that dream is possible after all.

What’s the dream God is birthing in your heart?

You may now want to read 7 Steps to Achieving Your Goals or 7 Reasons You May not be Achieving Your Goals.

5 Current Tools Making Me a Better Leader

I’m constantly attempting to be more efficient and effective with how I manage my time. With so much of my time online, that means many of the tools that improve my productivity are applications or other online tools. I have a few that are worth sharing.

Here are some of the current tools helping make me a better leader:

StrengthsFinders and The Standard – I believe a leader leads best when he or she maximizes personal strengths and minimizes weaknesses. I’ve been a fan of StrengthsFinders since shortly after it was released. The StandOut is a new strengths finder, but very comprehensive. Both of these assessments are inexpensive, are completed online, and a code to take them comes with the books when you purchase them and together these two have made me much more aware of who I am as a leader.

Evernote – Almost everything I write and every note I take begins with Evernote. It syncs with all my devices which means I’m never without a place to store or continue writing on projects on which I’m currently working. (This blog post started there.)

Flipboard iPad application – What did I do before this application? Flipboard brings everything I want to read into one app. Whether it’s USA Today, Harvard Business Review, Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, or my blog, you can add it to Flipboard to simplify your browsing.

Twitter – I’ve been using Twitter for several years now, but I’m still just as committed to it as when I began. I have made some of my best friends in the last few years on Twitter. I’ve spoken at conferences and consulted with churches, just because of my Twitter interaction.

Adobe Ideas – Adobe is an iPad drawing application. I have several drawing board applications, but this one lets me save multiple drawings. I pull it out every time I’m trying to explain or teach something. I now have an archive of drawings to pull from always on my iPad.

What would you share with me that’s helping you be better at what you do? Know any good apps I should try?

The Danger of Vision Casting

Vision casting can be dangerous…

It can destroy the health of a team…

Cast your stones if you want, but it’s true.

The most prolific vision-casters can ruin a good team.

Let me explain…

Casting a vision is one part of success…an important part…

Completing the vision is another…equally important part…

And if the team doesn’t understand the vision…

Or how to complete it…

It won’t matter how well the vision was cast…

In fact, it can even do more harm than good.

Visions can appear bigger than life…

People left without the “how” may feel discouraged, defeated; like failures.

They may give up and the vision dies…

Vision-casters, by nature, thrive on casting…so they are continually throwing out the big idea…

It’s fun, exciting, motivating…visionary…

Great leaders continually work to ensure people not only catch the vision…

But also understand the how and have the resources to accomplish the vision…

It takes both…

Great leaders:

  • Ask questions to make sure everyone understands…
  • Ensure there are plans, strategies, and systems in place…
  • Never leave the process during implementation…
  • Break the vision down into measurable steps or goals…

Have you been on the bad side of vision casting?