By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to increase your learning potential. Reading time: 3:17.
As a boy, Thomas Edison once sat on a geese eggs for hours to learn for himself how eggs are hatched. Bizarre? Peter the Great wore an engraved seal when he became the first Russian czar to tour Europe on a learning expedition. The seal read: “I am a pupil and need to be taught.” Weird?
Not really. Leaders are learners.
Leaders embrace William Ward’s contention that “curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning.” The most effective leaders continue to learn and earn their Ph.D – their Personally Harbored Discipline. And “Discipline” is a key leadership talent. The word –Discipline–stems from the Latin word for learning and learners (Disciples).
Learning and then teaching others with the same fortitude of the Biblical disciples is what leadership development is all about. “Very simply, those who do not learn do not long survive as leaders,” writes author Warren Bennis in his book Leaders: The Strategies for Taking Charge.
Here 7 Ways to keep learning, to stay vigilant in your career, to stay relevant in an ever-changing world.
1. Question everything. Ask: What if! Not : What for?
Freud once noted that his destiny was to belong to the “critical minority as opposed to the unquestioning majority.” Max DePree echoes that perspective on the inherent power in the question. In his book, Leadership Jazz, De Pree writes: “The quality of our work as leaders and the quality of our lives depends significantly on the questions we ask and the people about whom we ask the questions.” What’s your Yield Question? Warren Bennis, in his book Why Leaders Can’t Lead writes that truth begins with questions. And playwright Eugene O’Neill noted: “There are no bad questions, only bad answers.”
2. Be inquisitive. Develop a “portable ignorance“— the key to becoming a good journalist, according to author Tom Wolfe. Develop the ability to put aside what you think in order to really learn and understand other points of view
3. Be Open. As Peter Senge writes in his book The Fifth Discipline: “Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life.”
4. Yearn to learn. As the mother of John Quincy Adams wrote to her son who would become president of the United States: “Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”
5. Learn to Grow. As the Chinese philosopher Kuan-Tzu said: “If you give a man a fish, he will have a single meal. If you teach him how to fish, he will eat all his life.”
6. Learn to Think. As Socrates said: “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think.” Goal-setters make people think. Especially themselves.
7. Teach to Learn. As George Bernard Shaw once wrote: “You have asked me the way I have shown you. But I am a traveler myself and in showing you the way I have gone beyond you — indeed beyond myself.“
Yearn to learn and keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
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