How to be an Avid Learner (Part 1)

Top Self-Coaching Questions to Ask Yourself


One of the reasons why I love doing my podcast How Leaders Lead is I love learning from great leaders. I always get top insights into leadership and learn how they get such incredible things done. What has stood out to me among the leaders I talk to the most is that they’ve all demonstrated a real commitment to continuous learning throughout their careers. They all learn by doing. They all ask a lot of questions. And then they listen closely for real insights, and then at some stage in their career, each of them has learned from failure. They are what I call Avid Learners and this is where the self-coaching mindset starts.


Avid Learner Defined: 

To me, being an avid learner is a big part of what it takes to be a great leader and to begin this self-coaching journey. It shows you that they have the humility to realize that they don’t know everything, but they also have the determination and the sense of urgency to go out and find the answers, as well as get the knowledge that will move their business or team ahead. 


Are you robbing yourself of success? It’s a good question. Maybe the first step of becoming a more successful leader is becoming an avid learner? Life and work are what you make it. No matter who you are, you can benefit from re-evaluating your direction for the year ahead and having a self-coaching plan and mindset. Let’s ask some good questions and find some answers.


  1. What are you doing that people believe only you can do?


This question is crucial because it creates separation between you and the competition. This sets you apart and allows you to stand out. Think about that. What value do you bring to your workplace, to relationships, etc.? Are you the type of person and leader that you would want to follow? What is something you can do to make a difference in who you are today? Maybe it starts with just listening, or maybe it means having the courage to speak up and ask an important question. 


  1. What do people say when they talk about you?

You win business by what others are saying about you, not by what you’re saying about yourself. You may see yourself as being empathetic and a good listener, but feedback from others may say that you happen to be the first to speak up and have the answer no matter what. I remember when I spoke with Marvin Ellis, CEO of Lowes, on my podcast. He was up for a promotion he did not receive. When he asked why he didn’t get it he learned that he has a history of always being the loudest voice in the room, and he tried to have an answer to every question. He learned that he needed to understand when to talk, when to listen, when to lead, and when to follow.” He learned from this and grew as a leader in a big way.

  1. Are you listening and learning, or always the first to answer?

Now make no mistake about it, one of the best ways to be an avid learner is to ask questions, but then be humble enough to truly listen. Not just hear. Listening is where the learning takes place. Ask questions when you don’t understand something. Ask questions when you may not agree with something. This will help you to understand the “why”. Your questions may even spark a new direction. Be open to listening to feedback about your performance and how you can improve. This will truly be life-changing for your growth as a leader and an avid learner. 


  1. Are you afraid of that four-lettered word – FAIL?

When you work out what you’re afraid of, and you’re clear about it, you can address it. What holds you back? When you face the fear of failing this can be one of your greatest moments of learning and growing. I remember some of my biggest moments of getting stronger are on the back end of some of my biggest failures. It’s no surprise our biggest wins come out of our hardest losses. 

  1. Who are you trying to change?

Change is hard. Think about how hard it is to make a change yourself and then think what is the likelihood that you’ll change someone else? Work on yourself first, rather than others. Be the change you want to see. Change yourself first, then your team will follow. I learned from Neerin Chandary, the CEO of Panera Bread, to focus on only what you can do, have the curiosity to learn and listen, the audacity to dream, and the courage to act. This is where real change comes.

While on this self-coaching journey check out my upcoming book: Take Charge of You: How Self-Coaching Can Transform Your Life and Career, co-written by globally recognized Performance Coach, Jason Goldsmith.

Check out our podcast How Leaders Lead which gives you access to the top leaders in the world. In each episode, I sit down for real leadership conversations with leaders in business, sports, entertainment, and life to talk about how they get such good things done.