The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him. – Leo Tolstoy
The statement that I’d like to highlight within the quote above is, “the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already.” I’m certain that one doesn’t have to venture too far to remember a time when you have been firmly persuaded about something. Maybe that which you were firmly persuaded in impacted your ability to listen to someone else’s point of view. The type of firm persuasion that Tolstoy suggests can limit us from receiving feedback and seeking input.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself caught up in a vortex of short-sidedness, where I gave into a moment of inflexibility, over-confidence, and was blinded by my own paradigm.
Recently an article was written about Chicago Bulls player, Derrick Rose, who just received the NBA’s MVP award. The article highlighted encouraging words of congratulations, including one by NBA legend Michael Jordan.
One particular comment to note in the article was made by a teammate of Derrick Rose. The remark speaks volumes about Rose’s leadership. As you read this comment below, consider your own leadership.
Rose’s teammate said:
“He’s humble, he’s coachable. It doesn’t matter if the 12th man on the team says something to him, he’s going to look you in the eye and listen to you and nod his head and try to do it better…that’s just the kind of guy he is. And that is so rare. That is so rare. He’s got great people around him, coaching him, and helping him out.”
In our own leadership journey, I’d suggest that we could learn something from Rose. We may never receive the fame and fortune of Rose, but we do have something in common with him, and that is a choice. A choice to be teachable…to remain in the space of being coachable regardless of past or present successes.
A reflective question to ask about your leadership is, “Am I teachable?”
John Maxwell, leadership expert and author, suggests asking ourselves these questions to determine our “teachability”:
- Am I open to other people’s ideas?
- Do I listen more than I talk?
- Am I open to changing my opinion based on new information?
- Do I readily admit when I am wrong?
- Do I observe before acting on a situation?
- Do I ask questions?
- Am I willing to ask a question that will expose my ignorance?
- Am I open to doing things in a way I haven’t done before?
- Am I willing to ask for directions?
- Do I act defensive when criticized, or do I listen openly for truth?
Reflect on the 10 questions above to determine how you can be intentional about remaining teachable.