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Leaders Learn

"The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." —Socrates

One of the real marks of humility is having a genuine curiosity and desire to know and understand a situation or another person. Humble leaders are always learning, reading, listening to others’ ideas, and asking questions.

A great leader never believes they know everything. This is pride and arrogance and the antithesis of humility. Socrates was correct, the right attitude is one where you are curious, listening and always learning. This attitude comes from the right belief that we never have all the answers.

We should never get to a point where we stop asking questions. We should remain eager to gain wisdom and knowledge wherever we can. The best teachers are those who remain lifelong learners. In fact, a sure sign of a lifelong learner is a person who increasingly realizes how much they do not know.

Learning leaders are always open. They do not assume they have all the answers. They are humbly curious, always watching, reading, listening to the ideas of the people around them. They encourage fresh insights and suggestions from people at all levels—from board members to janitors.

“The only thing that is constant is change.” Heraclitus famously said. One of the most effective ways of being agile in the face of adversity and change is an attitude of lifelong learning. An attitude of continuous learning helps you to stay relevant and prepared for the unexpected. It boosts your confidence in your ability to adapt and makes you more ready to take on new challenges.

Finally, if you want to be a lifelong learner, it is crucial you learn how to listen. You must move from merely hearing what others are saying to understanding what they mean. I suggest you read our essay on empathy to understand its connection to learning. A great leader is someone with a voracious appetite to learn with a developed habit of listening for understanding.


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