Learning is Never Enough

To move toward your potential and maximize your leadership requires that you become a Lifelong Learner. A lifelong learner is someone who regularly and intentionally grows and develops themselves. But knowledge and learning is never enough, without implementing and taking action on what we have learned. Simply said, the change that happens from growth must be turned into action.

In my past post The Four Seasons of Personal Growth I shared these seasons: beginning, enthusiastic learner, deliberately implementing, and return on investment. If we expect to see the benefits and a high return on our learning it requires moving from an enthusiastic learner to deliberately implementing what we have learned. If we don’t apply and implement our growth we will lose what we have learned. I recently read Question Behind the Question by John Miller and he wisely said,

We attend too many seminars. We take too many classes. We buy too many books. We play to many audios in our cars. It’s all wasted if we’re unclear on what learning really is: Learning is not attending, listening, or reading. Nor is it merely gaining knowledge. Learning is really about translating knowing what to do into doing what we know. It’s about changing. If we have not changed we have not learned.

When we grow and learn it should lead to change in our actions and behaviors. When this happens we become better and those we lead will be positively impacted. Anyone can move toward success and greater achievement if they learn, implement, and take action! The challenge is the next time you invest in yourself through personal growth and development you also put time and effort into applying and implementing what you have learned.

Question: How are you turning your growth and learning into action?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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77 thoughts on “Learning is Never Enough

  1. You make a great point Dan. Learning is NOT doing . . . but doing IS learning. So yes, read your books and listen to your podcasts. They’ll help you gain some knowledge and insight, but spend more of your time DOING these things and you will actually LEARN. You will absorb. You will calibrate.

    Without action and follow through, all the knowledge in the world won’t help a thing.


  2. Loved and agree with what Miller wrote. I can remember attending one seminar after another trying to improve when it came down to implementing wisely what I already knew to be truth. I really wasn’t learning anything new. In some cases, I was being torn away from what I knew and what worked for me. In other cases I was left floundering. Only when I began to implement what God had placed within me as to who I am did I actually begin becoming a leader. Good thought Dan.

    • Ya, the book was really good! I really like your statement, ” Only when I began to implement what God had placed within me as to who I am did I actually begin to become a leader.” How true is that?:) When we aline our actions with His will he directs us and allows us to grow influence. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversion!

  3. It brings the passage in James 2 to mind: “be doers of the word, not hearers only deceiving yourselves.” True learning comes by implementing what you’re ingesting.

  4. At first I was going to challenge your definition of what it means to “learn” something. Thankfully I read the entire post! Knowing is not the same as learning. I enjoyed the quote from John Miller as it was a great addition to the post. What I experienced was I became an information junkie. Beyond that I spent so much time consuming, that I left little time for digesting, reflecting, and applying.

  5. Dan, great post!

    I agree that we need to not just learn, but we must also implement.

    I organized a meeting yesterday where we were helping some volunteers learn to plan their fundraising campaign for United Way.

    In the planning training the trainer provided this “wheel” which was:
    P – Plan
    D – Do
    C – Collaborate (I think this is what the “C” stands for)
    A – Act

    He stressed the point that when going through the stages you cannot move around the wheel again until you have taken time to learn, but that that learning should come from what you did. It was a great concept and matches up well to what you have suggested here.

    Thanks for this great post. :-)

  6. I’m quite guilty of reading and just consuming information without really changing. It’s sad, really. The difference between action-learning and just thumbing through some books is something I need to remind myself of.

  7. Dan, I am glad you brought attention to a challenge we all have to some extent–“learning”–adding knowledge, but not doing. Peter Drucker said his problem (and everyone else’s) was in not doing what we know to do. Thanks for the reminder how futile it is to add knowledge without taking action on that knowledge. I appreciate the reminder!

  8. This might be the one thing in life that I’ve always seemed to grasp. When I heard people talking about their dreams and business desires, I thought they were really going to do things. Turns out most of them were just talking. Don’t get me wrong, it was what made them happy, but nothing adds up toward a goal faster than action… Good post, Dan!

  9. The quote from John Miller hit me right between the eyes. I am guilty of reading too many how to books and taking class after class to learn what I already know. I thought about it and I was fearful to take consistent action because I feared failure and rejection.

  10. I can’t tell you how much this post is spot on. Brendan Burchard said “An expert is a student first.” So yes, you have to continue learning but at some point you have to take what you learnt and do amazing things! Continuing to learn more and not taking action is an excuse and nicely designed cocoon.

  11. This truth came to a head recently for me. I was taking in a lot of information but not really changing as a result. So, I am making some adjustments and already feeling the change. One way I am turning my growth into learning is by slowing down the pace of learning. What I mean by that is that I am deliberately taking more time with the information I am taking in (slowing my reading pace down, processing my thoughts more in writing and discussing, etc.) and then giving myself more time to apply what I’m learning before putting more in. I am doing this by sort of rotating the type of books I read. Instead of one “self help” (or whatever you want to call them) book after another, I read one and then go to a biography or historical book and then maybe to a piece of fiction. I also am trying to apply scripture to what I read more, especially those that aren’t blatantly Christian, so I am deliberately putting everything up against the truth. These are just some ways I am attempting to be a better steward of my learning. I am open to additional suggestions!

    • Hello Kari,

      Great point about “slowing down the pace of learning.” That’s important if we really want to grasp what we are taking in and then implementing it. Great thoughts about mixing up the books, I think that’s really wise.

      Thank you for stopping by and adding to the comment section.

      • Learning to slow down my thinking has been a difficult process that is far from complete. But, it is being blessed. Mixing up books is something I had to do in order to keep myself focused on reality. Glad to be reading your blog. I think it will help me in my journey to take thoughts captive, especially as I struggle with leadership.

  12. I think we have to ask ourselves if we are learning just to get smarter, or to get better at something. Sometimes I want to learn something new just for the sake of it – for instance learn Spanish – and that’s okay too. I am not sure it is a waste to learn something you don’t apply if you can file it away for later or it makes you a better resource to those you serve. However, you are right on in that you can read all the self-improvement books you want, if you don’t put anything into practice you are right back where you started.

    • I think learning something that might be helpful in the future is good and you brought a great point about “filling it away.” I think that’s important so when we need to remember what we learned we can go back and look it up. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  13. I take this topic seriously because if we are not learning what we implement we are just glorified Seminar goers whom get motivated take notes but don’t implement what you learn. Taking the first step of going to the course is great, but if we don’t put it into action we are not Learning anything.

    • I love it: “Glorified Seminar goers.” That’s so funny and true:)

      One of the things we should do (as speakers) is to be motivational teachers, we motivate while sharing practical points people can easily and quickly implement. So when the motivation goes they still will have action steps. At least that’s what type of speaker I’m striving to become.

      Thank you for sharing!

  14. It took me a long time to move from being a learner to a doer. Once you start taking action, it becomes much easier. It’s taking the initial few steps which often present a big challenge. But once you get going, you develop a habit of creating. I like how Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income encourages his listeners and readers to take one thing away from each podcast/blog and take meaningful action on it.

  15. I’m always trying to implement what I learn, in all sorts of ways – writing blog posts, trying to improve my site, acting on the advice I pick up from other people’s articles and posts – I also try to implement the personal development lessons I learn in my day to day life. As you suggest, you only really learn by ‘doing’ – and you only succeed at anything by taking action.

  16. One of the major steps I took was to begin sharing the information I was learning. I discovered it was one of the best ways to remember the information and to begin implementing it into my life. Once I began doing that, I really began to grow.

    • You are so right here, Joe. I have been purposefully doing the same through writing & talking to others, and it makes a huge difference in truly learning and knowing and applying rather than just taking in information.

  17. Love this Dan, “If we have not changed we have not learned.” I know am guilty of over-saturation sometimes, of taking in more information than I can absorb. I am learning to be okay with not knowing everything. with so much information available, there’s alot of pressure to read everything and know everything. But am learning it’s okay not to do everything, to pace myself, to read things that lift my heart, not just for research. great post

    • It’s a great line! I feel the same way at times. Great point about reading things that life you heart and soul. That’s important. I’ve learned to read books I really enjoy and even if it’s on the topic of leadership or faith, If I can get into the book I put it down and start reading a different one. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  18. Oh so true. That’s a differentiating factor between the people that get real stuff done and those that just do stuff. We talk about doing, starting, whatever, but you’re spot on for what learning really is. It takes those things a step farther. I could start reading all day long but if I don’t apply, it’s useless.

    I wrote a post about committing to being a life learner awhile back. Have a look if you’d like 😀 http://jaredlatigo.com/life-learner/

  19. Great post, Dan. I love learning. I’ve used many of the subjects I’ve studied in college on my blogging/writing journey. I’ve spent countless hours listening to great songwriters so that I might learn to become a better songwriter. Now I’m starting to read a stack of books about blogging, social media, and digital photography so that I might create some new courses to teach at the college. I love it.

  20. Hi Dan,

    A MUST talk topic :)

    I know we all read numerous blogs everyday. Share and comment too, but how many of us really apply ’em?

    I try to go for application when I can and feel it can be helpful for me Dan :) I did few and almost made changes in my life. And still missing more too. But glad I took action for some extent.

    You know we people like to talk and claim doers rather than taking action :) For them, an advice would be another phrase. I find doers will always on top of everything while others talking for years.

    Let’s DO 😉


    • Hello Mayura De Silva,

      I hear you, I read a lot of blogs each week and at times need to slow down to implement what I’m learning. Thank you for taking the time to read, comment, and I hope implement:)

  21. This post makes me feel lots better about my love for learning! I know that I have to have that balanced with doing which I am trying to do. I am currently reading “The Talent Code” and Coyle talks about “deep learning.” I love it. Thanks for this post, Dan.

    • I have the The Talent Code on audible and plan on listening too it soon. How do you like it so far? I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  22. Hello Dan What a inspiring post. Like other’s have said what came to mind was not just hearing the “Word” but activating the word into action.

    Thank you for inspiring those that are on a stand still, but with this article, they will begin to move, and create.

  23. Brilliant message, and so true. You can absorb as much information as you want (this is still vital), but unless you use it, it’s useless. Money spent, time wasted unless you take the action and implement it.

    One aspect of what I’m currently learning is the implementation of tactics to read faster, therefore I can home in on more information and subsequently learn even more!

    • Thank you Nick. Learning to read faster is great! I need to do the same thing, read fast and implement slow(meaning take the time to fully act and implement on what we have learned) I think is the key. Thank you for adding to the topic!

  24. I like this piece Dan. Indeed, learning is never enough even as we grow older. Learning must not stop even after we step out of school and we graduate. We learn many things in the “real world”. http://www.ultimatecoldcalls – Eliminate your fear of cold calling once and for all.