As our third grader left for his first day back to school, I whispered into his ear–listen, lead, and learn. These are three of the most important words I could impart to him as he was preparing for his new adventure. This message is one I hope can be impressed into his mindset and carried on throughout life.

L I S T E N 

God provided us with two ears and one mouth for a reason. We need to listen more and speak less. Listening skills are essential to master. The person who learns to listen intently will absorb more details, retain more knowledge, and acquire a deeper understanding.

To listen well means putting aside your own agenda in order to give your full attention to another person. Rather than thinking about what you are going to say next, your focus is on the one speaking in order to gain clarity. Maintaining good eye contact is critical when listening as well. When you focus on the person speaking, you are better able to disseminate what they are really saying.


Learning comes by the acquisition of new information in a manner that you are able to recall and use it later on. In order to learn, your mind must be focused on the lesson, being able to file the information in your mind, and then actually putting what you’ve learned into action is the key. Successful learning requires retention and practice.

The most important aspect of learning, however, is having the mindset and the attitude to learn. A closed mind will never be open to new concepts and ideas. Negativity will kill the learning environment. So why not remove your negative thoughts and allow yourself the ability to learn new things like never before.

A great rule of thumb when you are in the learning mode is the three-step method:

1. Write what you hear. Take notes. Review your notes.

2. Organize your thoughts. Highlight the main points. Create a thought-chart. Visualizing your lessons helps you retain what you’ve learned more effectively.

3. Repeat what you’ve learned out loud. Practice and repetition are essential.


In addition to listening and learning, becoming an effective leader is paramount. Leading requires skills that others desire to follow. Leadership skills like any other learned process take time, intention, and much practice.

A great leader will look for opportunities to learn from others. They will seek to find strong mentors. A great leader will be bold, brave, and willing to step out. Successful leaders recognize that developing others to become leaders is their greatest task.

As my little son left, I prayed that his little heart would expand and absorb what I was telling him. All of us must listen, learn, and lead. When we do these things, we expand and impact the world in which we live. What will you do today that will help you prepare for tomorrow?