3 Reasons You Need to Learn From People Different Than You

Does the breadth of your learning impact the depth of your learning?

Here’s a question I’m working through:

Does the breadth of your learning impact the depth of your learning?

I know … I think in tweets. But to say it a little less 140 character’ish: How much more could we learn by expanding the context of our education? And I don’t mean studying more people in your current industry. Granted, it’s not natural to study other industries and organizational leaders unlike us, but I think finding breadth could be a hidden ingredient to accelerated growth.

This idea hit me recently while at a conference. It was a great conference full of wonderful leaders—whom I’ve heard from too many times to count. I saw an advertisement for another conference. Guess who was speaking? Basically the same people. Don’t get me wrong. I love and respect these leaders. They’re my mentors—some directly. But I wonder—does a homogenous learning community stunt growth at some point?

When we only learn from our own kind, we become critical more than curious.

As a pastor, I primarily learn from other churches, church leaders and church models. As a younger leader, that was a great place to start. Seeing other perspectives and approaches to church helped solidify how I wanted to create and lead a local church. There was great clarity found in watching those who were already doing it. Yet the more comfortable I got as a leader in my church, the more critical I became of leaders in the church. I accidentally replaced learning with critiquing.

Of course, that’s not a healthy dynamic, but it is a natural progression. When we visit other organizations within our industry, we are hypercritical of what we understand (or think we understand).

Here’s what I’ve discovered: My leadership growth for my church is limited when I only learn from leaders in the church. This principle extends to EVERY industry, company and organization. Back to the principle (and tweet):

The breadth of your learning will influence the depth of your learning.

Maybe that’s not new to everyone, but for me, it has created a new category from which to learn. When I seek out leaders in other industries, it helps me in three specific ways:

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Gavin Adams
Gavin Adams believes the local church is the most important organization on the planet, and he is helping to transform them into places unchurched people love to attend. As the Lead Pastor of Watermarke Church, (a campus of North Point Ministries), Watermarke has grown from 400 to 4000 attendees in five years. A student of leadership, communication, church and faith, Gavin shares his discoveries through speaking and consulting. Follow him on Twitter or at his blog.