The leadership insights you need will not be limited by opportunity, but your attitude. The best learners are not people who have better access to information, but those who have a better mentality. They understand the second learning practice: Embrace an “Always Learning” mentality. As I mentioned in the introduction post, this is the difference between good and great leaders.
CORDED VS CORDLESS LEARNING
Learners embrace the famous saying: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” They realize that the process is more important than the content; learning is more important than what you learn. Though great content is helpful, embracing an “Always Learning” mentality allows you to continually pull from the well of insight and inspiration.
The difference between those who learn and learners is similar to the difference between a cordless and corded drill. If you need a drill for a quick, easy job, a cordless drill is convenient and sufficient. But if you need a power tool to last all day, you will need a continuous power source. Like the cordless drill, those who approach leadership without a learner’s mentality have a short shelf life. What is required of them will outgrow them and the world will quickly outpace them. On the other hand, learners, like the corded drill, are constantly reenergized with new insight and inspiration.
THREE COMMITMENTS OF A LEARNER
Stay Humble – A learner continually tells himself, “I don’t know everything.” Their humble posture should not be confused with self-deprecation. Instead, they have an honest self-evaluation that their knowledge is limited and their leadership requires more than they currently know. Learners are not deceived by the false notion that one has intellectually arrived. As long as you think you know everything, you will never learn anything.
Show Honor – A learner continually tells himself, “I can learn from everyone.” Coupled with having a humble view of themselves, learners also have a high view of others. They believe that each person has value and has something from which they can glean. Rick Warren describes his approach by saying, “I learn as much as I can, from as many as I can, as often as I can.” Learners not only find insight where it is obvious, but also where it is neglected. Whether you hold a different view or you are lower in the organization chart, a learner still believes you have something valuable to share. They don’t dismiss a person or an idea entirely, but instead seek to understand more fully with the expectation of finding an insight that will inspire them to act within their context.
Stay Curious – A learner continually tells himself, “There is always something new to learn.” If “To a hammer, everything is a nail,” then to a learner, every situation is an opportunity to express their curiosity. They aren’t content with what they know and are intrigued by what they don’t. They see the world as their giant learning playground. For these leaders, learning never turns off; their curiosity won’t let it. They are addicts; with every new thing they learn, they crave another opportunity. Whether it is a new book, a casual conversation with a friend, the most recent pop culture phenomenon, or something they hear on the radio, the learner sees every experience as an opportunity to express their curiosity.
What commitments would you add for people who embrace an “Always Learning” mentality?