When I was 19 years old I hit pause on my college studies and moved to Oklahoma. I spent the next two years as a missionary for my church, teaching and serving others.
I lived in four different cities. I saw extreme poverty and extreme wealth. I saw loving families and broken homes. I developed close friendships with a black university professor, a 70 year old widow, and an American Indian janitor/rapper. A man once chased me in his underwear, cursing and screaming at me.
Those two years were really hard but I look back on them with fondness. My eyes were opened. I grew up.
Our view of the world is shaped by our experience with it. We see life through our eyes and too often assume others view the world similarly. We make the mistake that our view is the “right” way of looking at things. But our view is based on our limited life experiences.
To meet the challenges in front of us, we need additional perspectives. We need to learn from others. I love this quote from General Jim Mattis:
Our firsthand experiences may be limited, but we can always leverage the experiences of others. This is one of the reasons I love reading biographies. Through books we can, in a way, live the life of someone else. We can learn from their experiences and leverage their insights.
It\’s been said that not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers. Want to lead? Read books. Read hundreds of them.
Never stop learning.