With many leadership blogs like this one, the authors are trying to bestow some knowledge to the audience. We are trying to teach others how to be better leaders. Truth be told, most of the knowledge we have we either learned the hard way by making mistakes, or we learned from someone else. The knowledge gained from “messing up” isn’t hard material to gather for this author; I’ve got plenty to spare. But while it can be easy to take notes on your own mess-ups, it’s sometimes more difficult to get the “easy” lessons; the ones from those who have “been there” and “done that.” As I’ve gotten older, I really enjoy these lessons the most. When you’re young and proud, you like to think you’ve got all the answers already. Somewhere along the line I probably said to myself, “this is not the most efficient way to learn something. Maybe I could take some advice and keep this kind of thing from happening so often!”
I have been blessed to have great role models and mentors in my life. Some came along later in my life. Some were there all along and I just didn’t realize the goldmine of information and wisdom that was right under my nose. The turning point was a decision to listen and learn. Fighting pride is a constant struggle, especially in a leadership role. Leaders are often expected to fix, instruct and guide. Sometimes, amidst all the fixing, you forget that you still don’t know everything.
I encourage you leaders to always be in a state of learning. Don’t be so busy teaching that you forget to learn. Model other successful leaders. They might be authors of other leadership publications or they might be CEOs of huge corporations. Often, they are quiet, unassuming people with a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that will only share when asked. Why? Probably because they are humble people. And, maybe they have learned that words are made valid by actions.
Whatever your ideal mentor looks like, be purposeful about seeking them out. Observe them. Ask them questions. You will avoid some tough times. And, you might get some material to write about:)