The Humility of Learning

man sitting on sofa reading book
Photo by Craig Adderley on

To be a true learner, you start from a posture of humility. You start knowing you don’t know everything. You start knowing there is much you still must learn. You start knowing you need something you don’t have. You start knowing you have a lot of room to grow, and a lot to know.

The greatest leaders are voracious learners. They are purposeful and intentional learners.

Most people, including most leaders, will admit they don’t know everything. Most will admit there is much to learn. Let me say it in the opposite way; virtually no one thinks, they think, they know everything. Yet, there is a disconnect between that understanding and who they actually are. Their acknowledgement doesn’t translate into the humility that drives learning.

Unfortunately, there are way too many leaders that will acknowledge they need to learn more but who act like they know everything. Their condescension is palatable. Their superiority is obvious to everyone but them. They stink up to high heaven with arrogance.

There are two primary courses of learning we should pursue:
1. Learn from others
2. Have a learning plan

First and foremost, we need to humble ourselves and learn from others—especially those whom we don’t think we have anything to learn from. Learn from those who you didn’t plan to learn from because you are ‘wiser’ than they are. Learn from those who you think are less than you, or at least, in a lower rank or position from you. Learn from those who don’t have as much experience as you do. Learn from those who are younger than you.

Second, have a learning plan. Start each year evaluating what you need to learn. Start with your vocation and relationships. Maybe you need to learn how to lead better, set better targets, understand people more, gain insight into service areas where you and your organization need improvement, incorporate better habits in your life, be a better husband, wife, or friend. We have so many opportunities to learn and so many things that will make us the better version of ourselves what better way to be real about it than make a learning plan.

Based upon your evaluation, at the beginning of the year, identify books, seminars, podcasts, conferences, webinars, blogs, etc that will fill these needed areas of learning. Then break it down to months or quarters: I will read ____ amount of books in this area by April. Or, I will go to this seminar or that conference.

Then, once you have a plan, you are free to learn without the stress of what and when you should learn.

My encouragement to you: be a humble leader and learn.

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