Remaining Teachable

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”:

  1. Am I open to other people’s ideas?
  2. Do I listen more than I talk?
  3. Am I open to changing my opinion based on new information?
  4. Do I readily admit when I am wrong?
  5. Do I observe before acting on a situation?
  6. Do I ask questions?
  7. Am I willing to ask a question that will expose my ignorance?
  8. Am I open to doing things in a way I haven’t done before?
  9. Am I willing to ask for directions?
  10. Do I act defensive when criticized, or do I listen openly for truth?

Leadership Challenge
Reflect on the 10 questions above to determine how you can be intentional about remaining teachable.

Don’t Lose the Wonder

Might I submit to you a dilemma, maybe even one of the greatest enemies in our day.  The enemy: Losing one’s astonishment and amazement.  Losing the WONDER.

Robert Capon once noted that “we are in a war between dullness and astonishment.”

I was reminded this weekend of the importance of keeping wonder in your life.  Watching my kids mesmerized at the world around them, captivated by the sweetness of each moment.  Drinking in each moment with gusto and life, the same moments that many of us would consider mundane and boring.

A.W. Tozer suggests that, “Culture is putting out the light in men and women’s souls.”

Maybe our challenge this week is to re-introduce ourselves to the tenacious curiosity we once had as a child.  You know…the age where you were enamored by the insistent “WHY?”

Let’s be honest, invoking the once alive notion of “curiosity” may seem odd, even uncomfortable.

Curiosity requires courage.

Imagine what the cadence of your week would look like if you embraced it with astonishment and amazement.

I know what I’m going to be doing…

I’m going to tear a page out of my toddler’s book, and look through their eyes of WONDER!

Becoming the Best in the World

Seth Godin has some brilliant thoughts in terms of when, why, and how to “quit” the right things, in order to focus on becoming the BEST IN THE WORLD.  In gist, he recommends that you eliminate those distractions (even good things) that aren’t priorities.  Godin suggests that we need to be tremendously clear about differentiating between short term (emotional) quitting verses long term (strategic) quitting.

Check out some quick-hit insight from his book, The Dip, on “Seven Reasons You might Fail to Become the Best in the World.”

1. You run out of time (and quit).
2. You run out of money (and quit).
3. You get scared (and quit).
4. You’re not serious about it (and quit).
5. You lose interest or enthusiasm or settle for being mediocre (and quit).
6. You focus on short term instead of the long (and quit when the short term gets too hard).
7. You pick the wrong thing at which to be the best in the world (because you don’t have the talent).

How are you going to realign your life, if need be, in order to focus on being the BEST IN THE WORLD?  What would that look like for you?  What are some “simple” steps you can make to ensure you are aligning your life to quit the “right” things in your life, and not buckle under the pressure?

Why is Superman a Hero?

Think about Superman for a minute.  Was he Superman because he could leap tall buildings and run faster than a local motive?  Or was he Superman because somehow he did not submit himself to the most basic and meaningless purposes of life?

Is it possible that Superman remains a hero, not because he had superpowers, but because of what his heart reflected?

I’m reminded of another man.  A man who laid aside his deity.  A man with whom didn’t disguise who God was by becoming a servant, but ultimately revealed who God was by serving others.

For a moment…

what if we were to remove the scaffolding (stuff that props us up) that some define success as…our education, our job, our net worth, our good looks, our accomplishments, even our resume.  Let’s suppose our being a hero doesn’t hang in the balance, between ego and self-righteousness.  Instead, our status of hero stands steadfast within the context of a heart to serve others.

Then again, the hero thing isn’t meant for everyone.

The Paradox of Choice

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