1. Get outside of your normal growth inputs.
It is so easy to go back to the same well to drink. Why? Because at that well we find ideas and people we are comfortable being around. To avoid becoming stale, predictable and confined to our routine strategies, requires that we get around people who will challenge our thinking, not just pump us full of more of the same ideas.
That sounds so basic, so let me say it in the form of some questions:
“What was the last conference you attended that was outside your denomination?”
“What was the last book you read that was outside your professional field?”
“When was the last time you hung around a leader to understand how they think rather than what they do?”
Your answers to these questions will reveal your growth inputs. If you’re always surrounded by the same people, your growth inputs may be getting clogged with larger quantities of old ideas. Getting outside your normal growth inputs will provide content to stimulate fresh thinking.
2. Combine reading, reflection and writing.
I have found that some of my best “think time” occurs while reading. Rather than simply reading a chapter and then going about the activities of the day, consider tacking on 15 minutes of think time to your reading time.
3. Meet regularly with a leader who stretches you.
I have a leader that I meet with at least twice per month who continually sharpens me. While we are close friends, we are also avid learners. I’m able to sharpen him with what I’m learning and he’s able to sharpen me with what he’s learning. Scripture calls it an “iron sharpens iron” relationship.
If all of your meetings are with people who require something from you, your thinking will always be limited by what you currently know.
When the level of your output exceeds the level of your input, the effectiveness of your output will be diminished by the deficit of your input.
Let that one sink in for a moment.
Do you suffer from “mindless mingling”? There’s a good chance you answered that question with an emphatic “No!”
So let me ask it another way. “What conferences have you attended, what books have you read and what leaders have you interacted with in the last five months that have changed how you think not just what you do?”