Experts in human development have said, "We become what we think about most". Our dominant ideas become reflected in the person we are becoming. In this sense we really do choose who we will become. Stephen Covey suggests that we should begin with the end in mind. "The strongest principle of growth lies in human choice." (George Eliot) Reading, or listening to the radio, or watching a film, is only a first stage of the learning process. To learn something you must engage with the topic. You need to be proactive in making your choices. Choosing to have fun or to get drunk will have quite different long term effects than choosing to get fit or to play the piano.
You Become What You Do
The late Professor Graham Nuthall of Canterbury University, in New Zealand was an expert in classroom behaviours. It's his claim that children in school only learn what they do. No matter what the topic is, a few days later, (often a few minutes later) everything they were told or read about the topic has been forgotten. You can use that understanding in your daily life.
Our pro-activity must extend to building habits of life that build the person we are choosing to become. Make it your practice each day to do something to help you engage with some new data or information that interests you. We are responsible both for what we achieve and for the opportunities neglected.
Covey tells us to seek understanding. Doing something is the key. Write a note about it. Tell a friend. Explain your ideas to a stranger. Research the idea. Prepare a fact and opinion file. Keep a notebook and writing things down. DO SOMETHING, apply yourself. Stephen Covey tells us to do the first things first. So we should generally get fit and play the piano, rather than watch TV or get drunk.
If you are a member of an online social network, sharing what you are learning with the network has triple value. You work hard to make sense, you help others to engage with you on this topic, and you may get some useful personal feedback.
If you've followed the Covey formula so far you'll regularly meet situations where you can collaborate or work together with other people. In this situation a win/win outcome is much more beneficial than a simple transaction like making a "Sale".
The seventh practice recommended by Covey is "sharpening the saw" or continuous learning. In the diagram on the right you'll notice that reflective dialogue is a key to active learning that develops the self. Talk to other people about yourself and what you are trying to achieve.