For the last 35 years, I have learned from a variety of people by simply asking questions. These are questions that I have thought about in advance. My goal is to glean something helpful from these individuals. What I wish to learn shapes the questions that are asked.
Typically, I will ask a person to coffee, lunch, or simply spend some time at that person’s office. We meet for an hour or less.
1. I interviewed the mayors of several of the communities where we lived in order to learn about the area. I simply asked these leaders for the opportunity to learn from them.
2. I have interviewed many, many preachers. I asked questions about ministry and preaching, as well as for guidance in experiencing a long term ministry. These conversations also included questions about spiritual formation, dealing with conflict, and overcoming discouragement.
3. I have interviewed business people. From these individuals I have learned much about personal organization, time management, and developing a process for getting things done.
4. I have interviewed husbands to learn about marriage. I have interviewed fathers to learn how to be a better father.
5. Finally, I have interviewed coaches, teachers, professors, and others to gain understanding about various aspects of work and life with the goal of personal growth.
1. Consider what you need to learn at this point in your life. In what areas do you need to advance your knowledge and understanding?
2. Next, think about several people whom you could possibly learn from. Don’t assume that a particular person would never have a conversation with you. Far too many people assume that others would not make themselves available to them. Consequently, they never ask.
3. Ask several people for conversations. Be sure to pay for lunch or coffee. Come prepared with good questions. Don’t underestimate what you might be able to learn.