My schedule has been switched up a little this week, but I’ve been able to get out and run, despite the snow. It is apparent to me that running in snow slows you down. Still, that gave me time to finish listening to another Andy Stanley podcast. I love it when I find a new voice who helps me think and see things differently, either because they’re so much further on than me, or coming from a different perspective entirely. Even if you disagree with them in some areas, listening to strong leaders outside your own expertise, discipline or culture will challenge you to think deeper and more broadly. The habit also leaves lots of room for unexpected challenge and conviction.

But most significantly, this new habit is causing me to grow in areas separate than the ones addressed specifically by the podcasts. Just like my running has increased my lung capacity, stamina and overall health, resulting in better rest, more energy and less fatigue when I lead on Sunday, or wrestle with my kids, or take several trips up and down stairs, the result of engaging content and reflecting on it pays off with better capacity in other particulars.

Consider someone who has a horrible time reading technical literature. They complain that their brain fades out, they take far too long reading, confusion sets in between paragraphs three and four, and amid general disheartening, they stop trying to read at that level. Is the answer to determine you’re not a reader? Or is there a better way? I’d suggest start reading non-technical stuff. Read fiction. Read lengthy articles, whether on sports, hobbies, politics, cooking; the particular is not important at this point. You’re working on capacity instead. If you commit to being a better reader at the level you can sustain, then you’ll find your capacity has increased to make the particular of technical reading feasible (and even enjoyable!).

Having spent more time thinking through issues raised in podcasts, even when those issues don’t directly correlate to my own situation, my capacity for critical thinking and communication has increased in my own particulars.

Where do you need to increase capacity, and what’s your plan to do so?

What particulars are frustrating you right now, and can you identify the core skills you need to improve to get better results?