The biggest takeaway from reading, Learn How to Study by Rowntree is the effectiveness of planning out your study time. It has been said in leadership teachings to focus on your strengths and not your weakness. While this is a famous saying and motivates people to do their best while not worrying about their weakness, empirical evidence does not support the benefits of this popular notion. Taking a cue from Rowntree the more effective path to take would be to plan for your weaknesses rather than ignore them.
For me, this plays out in the area of writing. For years I have always declared that I am not a good writer. It is an area I deem as a weakness and try to avoid at all cost. The ultimate statement I continually confessed being, “I will never write a book,” was the result of this weakness I perceived in writing. Through the journey of a master’s program and now this doctoral one I am gaining more confidence in this area but still see it as a weakness compared to others. One of the reasons for the growth is precisely what Rowntree preaches which is planning. For Rowntree reflective processing is a key to maximizing learning. This is highlighted in his seven-phase process of learning via essays. They are (1) analyzing, (2) researching, (3) deciding, (4) planning, (5) writing, (6) critiquing and, (7) learning from feedback. Notice that writing is number five out of seven, not number one. The lesson that I have learned over the last three years is to plan out my writing so that the lack of confidence is built up through a process instead of being overcome by the weakness. Rowntree’s perspective now gives those of us who struggle with writing a framework through reflective processing.
The application for leaders is the age-old saying, “if you fail to plan then plan to fail”. In the Pentecostal/Charismatic streams that I move in, “planning” is often seen as the antithesis of the Holy Spirit. The underlying thought process is one that sees the Holy Spirit as spontaneous and therefore any “planning” will hinder the Spirit. On the one hand, I do think some churches “process” every aspect of the church service down to the minute, in order to control the flow of a service. On the other hand, we can dismiss the belief that planning is anti-Holy Spirit with even a cursory look at scripture. One only has to look at Genesis the first chapter to see that God plans out the creation. If you look at Acts 2, the day of Pentecost, at first it may seem like a spontaneous act until you read and understand the context in which the Holy Spirit comes. In Acts 1 it says, “Once when he was eating with them, he commanded them, “Do not leave Jerusalem until the Father sends you the gift he promised, as I told you before. John baptized with water, but in just a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” I reference this portion of scripture to point out the fact that the disciples were not in a random place at a random time hoping for the Holy Spirit to show up in Acts 2, but they were commanded to be there and wait. It was a planned place for a planned encounter to happen. What may have come as spontaneous to them, was not to God. Practical I think this plays out in the understanding of motivation vs. intention.
In a research study conducted in Great Britain, people were split into three separate groups with the goal of determining what makes people stick to their goals. Using exercise as the goal, group one was the control group and were asked to track how often they exercised. Group two was known as the motivation group. They were asked to read material on the benefits of exercise along with being tasked to track how often they exercised. The final group was given the same presentation as group two plus they were asked to make a plan for when and where they would work out. Each person in the third group was specifically asked to complete this statement: “During the next week, I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] in [PLACE].” The results showed that in the first two groups, 35 to 38 percent of participants exercised at least once per week, while in the third group 91 percent of the participants exercised at least once per week. Motivation, in this case, did not add to the habit of exercising, but intention (planning) did.
In many Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, we seemed to be motivated by the right outcome (as in not wanting to get in the way of the Holy Spirit), but motivation alone does not add much. Being intentional both through prayer and via planning times for the expectation of the Spirit might do more for our churches than just wishing something will happen. Intentionality does not take away from the Spirit but anticipates a move of the Spirit. Planning, therefore, can be a help and not a hindrance if viewed in the right perspective.
 For one such example see: “Forget About Working On Your Weakness, Play To Your Strengths: Your (Overwhelming) Reaction To The Idea,” Paul B. Brown, Forbes, accessed October 16, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/actiontrumpseverything/2013/07/10/forget-about-working-on-your-weakness-play-to-your-strengths-your-overwhelming-reaction/#52d029587765.
 “Stop Focusing on Your Strengths,” Harvard Business Review, accessed October 16, 2018. https://hbr.org/ideacast/2016/01/stop-focusing-on-your-strengths.html.
 Derek Rowntree, Learn How to Study: a Realistic Approach (London: Time Warner, 2002), Location 4722, Kindle Edition.
 Acts 1:4-5 (NLT).
 Sarah Milne, Sheina Orbell, and Paschal Sheeran, “Combining Motivational and Volitional Interventions to Promote Exercise Participation: Protection Motivation Theory and Implementation Intentions,” British Journal of Health Psychology 7 (May 2002): 163–184.
 For a more in depth analysis visit: James Clear, “Achieve Your Goals: The Simple Trick That Doubles Your Odds of Success,” accessed October 16, 2018. https://jamesclear.com/implementation-intentions.