You are not leading unless you are learning. Leadership and learning are, in the words of JFK, “indispensable to each other.” And if you take learning to the next level by sharing with others, you are accomplishing what I believe is one of the true hallmarks of leadership.
Leading is learning and learning and sharing is leading.
Never. Stop. Learning. No matter what you do in life, live by the motto “Learn something new every day!” I have told that to my children, my nieces and nephews, new employees that I have mentored, colleagues on really good days, colleagues going through a rut, and now I am sharing this with you. But if you are reading this, you likely subscribe to this mantra. Learning is the key that opens up every possibility that we might create and turn into reality. It will also help select the best opportunity that is born out of these possibilities.
But, reader beware…
We all have so much information at our fingertips that many of us believe that we are ‘learning’ everyday…all day long…non-stop. But this information overload may have us all fooled into thinking that we are learning every time we pick up our ‘smart’ phone. Learning takes focus. We are hardly focused each time we reflexively grab our phone every 6.3 minutes. Now, I am not saying that you can’t be focused while reading some great stuff on your smartphone. You are likely reading this from your smart phone right now (and hopefully you think it’s great). Here are 3 ways, however, that we can slow down and focus as we are learning…and leading:
Timing is everything: do not be tempted to bury your head in your phone at a meeting that you are not interested in. You are doing a disservice to your colleagues and unless you are firing off a vital email that you forgot to hit send on, you are not accomplishing much. Your distracted and are likely distracting others. Setup some time during your day to focus on learning. If you think that you do not have time for this, most of us can’t afford not to dedicate some time to learn.
Content is king: pare down some of the scores of resources that you turn to for learning. Create a list on Twitter of your followers that provide the right information
Focus: don’t just skim. This is very tempting, and sometimes it is all that is possible. However, begin to try to drill down. Think of some of these great articles and information as just the tip of the iceberg. Dig deeper. Some of us do this naturally to quench the thirst for knowledge without even thinking. To others, let this be your catalyst to sparking the fervor for learning.
Another facet of learning is that one should never stop asking questions. Questions offer the path to greatness and those with a large ego often believe questions make you look less intelligent than you are. Contemplating and having the courage to ask the ‘right’ questions with the right direction are an invaluable tool to great things.
Thank you for reading and thank you for sharing. Have a great day and do great things!
We all know how important it is to be silent when you are listening. Truly listening. This can sometimes be very difficult for some to do; and it takes a fair amount of self-awareness and self control to be good at this consistently. However, this post assumes that one has the self control to be able to receive the communication in an empathic way. And that we are able to do it every time despite our emotional state. This level of emotional empathy and openly listening is the most effective way to develop a meaningful response in any conversation. As Stephen Covey asserts, many “listeners” are listening to develop a response. A verbal response. We miss so much of the subtle non-verbal cues when our mind is churning through thoughts that will soon become words. However, this post is more about what we do with the information that we just received Continue reading Learn to Listen…Then ACT
We all think we can do it. In fact, so many of us think we are actually good at it. But is it possible to truly multi-task? Accomplish and/or make significant and impactful progress on the multitude of assignments that we work on at any given moment? How can we focus? Are we accomplishing meaningful work? What do we do first? Is there anything that we should stop doing??
The pursuit of passion. Loving what you do, and doing what you love. I recently finished a great book that may lead you to the path of finding your passion. The book is The ONE Thing (@the1thingbook) by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. This book inspired me to try to focus on what my purpose is. My passion. What drives me and brings out the best in me.
The luckiest of people are those that get the opportunity to convert their passion into a career. It is not easy to “find” your passion. I often feel that it may be that our passion finds us. And the one trait that will help you to be ‘discovered by your passion’ is self-awareness. Once your passion finds you, turning it into something useful and productive can be difficult given the plethora of life’s distractions. There’s just no time to focus and “priorities” get in the way of our passion. I do not intend to imply that one must earn a living from their passion; this is quite difficult to accomplish. However, pursuing your passion can help to enhance your life and your career if you feed it and nourish it and follow it. Often times, the thing that you do best comes so naturally that even when you are at work, and really working hard, it does not feel like work.
“There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passion in a way that serves the world and you.”
~Sir Richard Branson
With some deep reflection and while reading a few more books and articles to help my mind discover myself, I have come to realize that writing is a great passion of mine. Writing and spending the time preparing to be a better writer helps me nourish some of my other passions in life. Learning is also something that I aspire to do every single day – learning from colleagues, learning from my mistakes, and learning novel information from books and articles that drives me to be a better person. Learning and reading incessantly helps me to feed my passion of writing. And these also feed into another concept that I am obsessive about – improvement. I am constantly looking for ways to improve – processes, designs, safety, and myself. These proclivities are interconnected and though it seems simple as I write this, it took some contemplation to discover this. Now, I constantly look for how these compulsions fit into my career and into my life. And it is not just the end game of finding your one passion; the beauty of this is that there lies a path with many complementary ‘passions’ that lead you to your ONE THING.
By the way, I set a goal to read more books than I have in the past. Shooting for 40 this year. That’s almost one book every week, or so. I can do it. I will make the time to do it. If you have any recommendations, my favorite topics are leadership, communications and emotional intelligence.
Thank you again for reading and for sharing. Have a great day and do great things…and open your mind and your heart so that your passion will find you!
Leaders that are looking to shine through their own hard work, perseverance and positive attitude are never looking for the spotlight. Those that are looking to get credit (or worse “take credit”) are those that waste their time doing this rather than getting their hands dirty doing any work. I remember a terrible example of someone trying to steal credit in my professional life. Our organization had just had a new management team come in and the leadership team was going around the room explaining roles, responsibilities and some quick accomplishments of programs in each of their divisions. As we went around the room, another department head who had been overtly insecure in her new job role proceeded to take credit for a program that I had been intricate in developing. I had helped to lead a team of professionals who had been dedicated and focused on one thing – getting the work done. That’s all, simply just getting the work at hand done and done well.
We have all heard the phrase “use it or lose it”. This applies to many aspects of our life, not just the often associated physical fitness part of our lives that we immediately think of after hearing this. It applies to our brains, our psyche, our influence, and in the leader’s world, our learning ability. In the life of the leader, learning is the capacity to effect change as a result of turning new information into action. The greatest of leaders do this proactively in response to new information that must be integrated in a world where information overload and more data “magically” translates into “better” outcomes.
Do you have a mentor? Is there someone that you turn to when you need direction or guidance on critical decisions? Some are lucky enough to be able to confidently turn to more than one adviser. Maybe you are experienced enough to be a mentor and have earned the trust of someone that turns to you in times of indecision. A great leader is never ashamed to seek the input of those that are successful and have been Continue reading Leaders Who Lead Best are Led by Others