What’s a learning lunch?
It’s quite simple: If there is a leader that I admire and think I can learn from, I ask them if I can take them to lunch (or breakfast or dinner). I always try to pay for their meal. There is something about sharing a meal together that can be really powerful. When I share a meal with someone, there seems to be an intimacy to it that allows people to open up and talk about their lives.
Who do I take on a learning lunch?
There have been lots of people, including a pastor, a church administrator, a Diocesan Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry, a youth pastor, a great workshop speaker, a blogger, the executive director of a national ministry organization, a very fit and healthy person, etc… We can truly learn from anyone. I try to find people that are better than me in one area or another. Trust me, to find someone better than me at something is not a difficult task.
How do I prepare for a learning lunch?
Before my learning lunch with an individual, I spend some time thinking about questions that I want to ask the individual. I try to be really intentional about the questions I ask as their time is limited and I want to take full advantage of the time I have with them. When we have lunch, after I ask the questions, I spend a lot of time listening and taking notes. I type faster than I write, so I usually bring my computer with me.
Accidental Learning Lunches
Sometimes learning lunches happen on accident. They are not always planned and I don’t always have questions prepared in advance. I remember one specific time on a plane I was on where I happen to sit next to a woman who owned her own business and sat on the board of a national non-profit organization based out of Washington, DC. During the three-hour plane ride, we talked about how she runs her business, what makes an effective board of directors, and Latino and cultural issues in the United States. She made me think differently about my experiences, taught me a lot about leadership, and how I can be a more effective minister and leader.
Sometimes learning lunches happen on purpose, sometimes on accident. Look for those accidental opportunities to meet with great people, as well as intentionally engage those you know who you can learn more from.
Who have you met with lately that you learned a ton from? How can you do that more regularly?