The Best Thing to do For Yourself in 2016
You want to teach, achieve results, and make meaningful contributions. But, the thing that will make the biggest difference for your leadership is learning. In the end, learning comes first.
Learning precedes achievement.
7 ways to become a learner:
#1. Test yourself by stepping into discomfort.
Try something new, if you want to learn something new.
- Find someone who will support, rather than accuse, when you test yourself.
- Explain what you’re trying to do, before you do it.
- Aggressively seek feedback after testing yourself.
#2. Ask questions.
The questions you ask predict your future.
- Stay calm when listening. Breathe and calm your spirit. You can’t listen when you’re in a rush.
- Don’t punish people when you hear something you don’t like. Honor them.
- Ask awkward or obvious questions.
- Don’t accuse with questions. Avoid, “Why.”
- Explore reasons why something might be right, before explaining why it’s wrong.
- Avoid defending your ideas, before you understand the ideas of others.
- Take the posture of a novice, even if you think of yourself as an expert.
#3. Believe you can learn from anyone.
It’s amazing how people who ask for advice often tell you how to give it. Don’t be so smart. If you’re older, learn from the younger. If you’re younger, open yourself to your elders.
#4. Learn a little every day, rather than a lot all at once. Bite size chunks of learning are better than large gulps.
Learning that sticks takes time.
#5. Reflect on your journey.
- Ask yourself, “What am I learning?”
- Try keeping a journal. The best thing I do for myself is write everyday.
- Explore your journey with a coach or mentor. An audience aids reflection.
#6. Make room for mistakes. The need to learn without being wrong holds you back.
Being wrong comes before being right.
#7. Learn as you go, not before you go.
What are some of the best things leaders could do for themselves in 2016?
How might leaders become better learners?
Sir, I’ve been reading your posts for the last few weeks. Sometimes, I feel that the information explains itself, yet at other times, I wish I knew what the position was. For example, how does one make room for mistakes? What does that look like and how do you measure it?
Thanks lost… Welcome to Leadership Freak and thanks for leaving a comment. Yes, most of the things I write could be much longer. The challenge of brevity is clarity.
The idea of making room for mistakes is important because we learn the most from mistakes. I find that I need to let go of the need to be right. For, letting people know that you are trying something new is a way to make room for mistakes.
I also believe we make room for mistakes when we invite people into the learning process. If you’re leading a team for the first time, you could let everyone know that it’s your first time and you invite their feedback.
Back to your original comment about brevity and the need for greater clarity. I’ll keep doing my best to be clear. I tend to err on the side of brevity. When I get confusing or unclear, please feel free to ask or even speculate as to what you think I’m getting at.
Agree it is a new way to stretch yourself. Txs for always helping us to grow so we can help our co workers and teams. Anita Sue
Thanks Anita. Let’s keep stretching. 🙂
Dan, your blog is a real blessing. So please know your willingness to serve everyday is making a difference in the lives of many. I have shared your blog to many peers.
I get the opportunity to teach on leadership a couple times a year and one of the key points I introduce early in the session is “you never stop learning. Once you think you are done learning you are done leading!” Thank you for supporting that position!
Thanks Ken. Your comment is a joy to read. It’s a pleasure to be of service.
“Once you think you are done learning you are done leading!” That’s powerful.
Best. Post. Ever. I am currently reading this on my iPad and it’s nearly midnight, but I’m going downstairs, switching on the laptop and I’m printing this post out. I’m going to turn it into a poster and put it where I can see it every day. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate reading this right now. It encapsulates so much of what is going on with me right now. All the things I want to achieve in 2016 begin with these steps and this attitude. Definitely sharing! Thank you, Dan.
Thanks Vanessa. It’s so great when a post hits someone at just the right moment. It’s only 7 p.m. here and I’m getting sleepy already!
You have my best for the journey and please stop back often to share your insights.
Hi Dan, I’m a teacher and I’m going to put your poster in my classroom. The only thing I would alter is #3 – you can learn from anyone, including your peers. If I can get my students to internalise these principles my classroom is going to be a place of exciting learning journeys.
I’m also a voluntary leader in a non-profit organisation and I’m learning a great deal about myself in the years I have served. These principles are really the distilled essence of what it means to me as a leader – I not only do this for myself but I guide others towards it also. The journey is a thrilling one!
Thanks, Dan. The need to learn supports the notion that we are all a work in progress. Being a work in progress supports the notion that it is important to be humble. Thanks for the post.
Thanks Donna. You really nailed a couple important and interconnected ideas. Some of us lose the notion that we are a work in progress. This really comes out when someone points out one of our mistakes or short-comings. 🙂
A Leader in the truest of sense is always evolving based on their inquisitive nature. But,.. a key point to leadership is that a Leader must assess and then Execute with total commitment. For without the mettle to execute based on knowledge and wisdom, they are just a politician
Thanks Don. Among the things to learn is the skill of assessing and executing. A very useful addition to the conversation.
As a new principal I’m acutely conscious of learning all the time. I love reading your insights. Sometimes they are just what I need to affirm my thoughts and actions; at other times they challenge my thinking for days – a great balance!
Thanks Linked. Congratulations on serving your community in education. Thank you for your encouragement. Happy New Year
Good learning is good leading and bad is no leading. How do you lead is how we learn. It is just the passing of what we have achieved. Both have a close relationship and the success of this relationship can only be measured how do we learn and how do others learn from us.
Thanks Abdur. You remind me of an important principle of leadership. We must pour into ourselves if we hope to pour out.
I think for me personally the biggest thing I’ve come to appreciate the leaders I work with is that they understand that failure isn’t and option it’s a necessity. I never realized that before I came onto the staff I work with now. Everyone always questioned those failures as a lack of ability to succeed, but really failure is why we succeed. We ask 3 questions:
What did we do great?
What can we do better?
What do we need to not do at all?
So basic but extremely great advice. I think that’s why we are so successful is because our perspective isn’t on the failure but on the innovation that comes from those failures.