I met my wife in 11th grade; we were in Trigonometry together. I’m glad I was there; however, I shouldn’t have been. It became obvious fairly quickly that I was in over my head. Our first ever conversation occurred while looking at the results of our first test. I made a 16… Donna made a 96! She asked me how I got a 16 – I said, “I think they gave me points for getting my name right.”
Thankfully, she took pity on me that day. This year we celebrated our 31st year of marriage. Obviously, many things have changed over the years, but perhaps nothing more dramatic than the way I view learning. In 11th grade, I was a lousy student. Today, I believe my success as a leader hinges on my ability to learn and grow.
I’ve been asked on several occasions to share the greatest insight in my career – there have been many. However, one of them is:
Your capacity to grow determines your capacity to lead.
That’s the big idea behind a book I wrote with Ken Blanchard, Great Leaders Grow. The best leaders are students for life.
My encouragement to you is to become predatory regarding learning. Learn all you can about yourself, your people, your company, your industry, your competitors and your chosen profession – for many of you, leadership is your job. Learn all you can.
Here’s a great question to start asking your colleagues: What are you learning? After they respond, they’ll often ask you the same question. What benefits might you enjoy if conversations about learning became the norm in your culture?
My commitment is to continue to share what I’m learning on my leadership journey. If I share what I’m learning, will you? Who are the emerging leaders you want to serve? How can you help them learn? Every time you help another leader learn and grow, you’re putting another brick in the monument known as your legacy.
Today, unlike 40 years ago, I am a fully engaged student. If you’re a leader, I hope you would say the same. By the way, Donna is in charge of our checkbook – I could never get the numbers to add up.[GLS_Shield]
Have you made the decision to be a student for life?