To Teach and To Learn
One of the things that leaves me feeling grateful about about the work I get to do is that I learn as much from my participants as they do from me. Dr. Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, beautifully reminds us how critical cultivating a love of learning is to our success and I’ve started to notice a visceral difference on days I learn something new. I actually feel better – more realized I suspect.
I’ve discovered over the years that open enrollment sessions are a hot-bed for cross-learning. When you bring a small group of people together, from a variety of backgrounds, industries, and experience-levels, everyone looks at the world through a different filter, and they all add something unique to the conversation. And, without a doubt, we’re all richer for it.
Of course it’s all generalities, but I’ve observed that each group tends to bring different strengths to the space. The corporate leaders often understand strategy, but sometimes struggle with purpose and can be hesitant to show their true selves and take bold action. The non-profit leaders in the room have no problem with purpose, but strategy can be a mystery, and because they’re wearing a million hats, action over-whelming. The entrepreneurs will boldly dive into action, often without concern for purpose or strategy, but they’re creative, and they know how to get things done. The executives in transition have years of experience to draw upon and share, but are often redefining success for themselves and wrestle with how to make the difference they hunger to make. The introverts, while working on communicating more powerfully, teach the extroverts how to listen deeply, to observe closely, and ask powerful questions. Designers teach operators how to find creative solutions. Emerging leaders teach senior leaders how to forget all they think they know and to ask new questions. Without a doubt they all bridge each others’ courage. And I have the best job in the world because I get to learn from all of them!
They all have something to teach and something to learn. We all do.
What’s so incredible about this world we live in, is that there’s a different perspective every-which-way-we-turn. The problem is, we tend to seek council from those who look at the world the same way we do. Rather than learning from one another, we’re simply re-enforcing our own beliefs and are bound by the limits of our strengths. But that needn’t be the case.
What if we were to challenge ourselves to intentionally turn to people who see the world through a different lens – people who ho bring different talents or a have different world-view? What if we were to ask them how they’d approach a problem or about their ideas? Maybe invite them to explore obstacles they see that we may not? Only by leveraging the wisdom, experience, and gifts of those unlike us, can we be as powerful and effective as we can be.
Who can you teach? What can you learn?
©OnStage Leadership, 2014 (revised from post originally posted November, 2013)
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