Less than 4% of what we hear, read, or witness actually is retained for improvement learning. Why? We are too accustomed to being entertained, versus becoming students of great ideas.
John Maxwell became a student of leadership. The more he learned, the more he led by sharing what he had learned. Now recognized as one of our nations leading authorities on Leadership, John has a tremendous following. Dale Carnegie became one of Time magazines’ most influential people of the century, by taking notes as his students shared their success stories in his YMCA class.
Jack Welch became a student of Quality and Processes, much like Edwards Demming. The fruit of Demming’s life-long studies is still feeding younger generations around the world. The Japanese even have a quality award named in his honor where Jack Welch is recognized as a leader in the Six Sigma approach to solving problems. Sam Walton studied the customer, the employee, and the supplier.
Dave Ramsey studied what it takes to be wise with money and began to share as a volunteer on a radio show. He learned as he participated with his audience and now leads many in their personal finance. And Thomas Stanley studied millionaires to find out what makes them tick, and what makes them successful. Now he is recognized as an authority because he compiled his findings.
What is the difference between these people and the rest of the population? Their purpose was to learn, which required studying. Even a healthy percentage of people read a great number of books only to cite them as a book they have read. They may have even high-lighted insightful passages only to close the book, locking away that treasure on the shelf. With all probability, they have the same idea high-lighted in four to six books, never employing the time and energy to actually profit from the thought. The leaders however, pull the idea out and maybe throw the book away.
If it truly is a great idea, then they want to maximize the benefit from the treasure they have found. They toy with the idea exploring the many what-if’s. They envision where it could be used for the greatest return. They formulate situations and people with which the idea is to be tested, and in so doing, have begun the process of developing a new discipline. Leaders do this as others who high-lighted the idea and closed the book, return to the TV or yet start another book without ever using the idea they thought worthy of high-lighting. That’s being entertained by wisdom but failing to be wise.
It has been said that leaders are readers, but they must also be so much more. They must be students too. They must take the wisdom from between the pages and make it happen in their personal or professional lives. There have been so many wannabe-leaders who have passed through countless courses gleaning the theory but not the skill. These people are almost as stagnant as those who refuse to read. These people are ‘tunnel vision’ focused on tasks, not developing the peripheral vision necessary for growth in leadership skills, nor developing their people.
We are led by the minority. The few who were entertained by the idea and the possibilities of application grew richer, while the rest laid the idea aside to return to their other entertainment. The minority are those who stuck with the idea until it came to fruition. The majority are those of us who allow others to do the idea-mining, while we accomplish only the tasks at hand. Our time must be used more wisely, more productively, more imaginatively, to move beyond the majority.
The masses are immobilized by their dependence on others to spoon-feed them. The majority are mired in the quicksand of apathy and complacency where their work gives birth to nothing more than frustration and jealousy. The envious watch as leaders pass them by. The majority are left wondering why their degrees or resumes, listing old accomplishments, did not open the door for new opportunities. Status quo annihilates aspirations and career ambitions.
Leaders set time aside to reflect and evaluate. They make sure they learn from success as well as mistakes. They share their wisdom and bring others along in their growth and understanding. Leaders plan time to read, time to reflect, time to measure success, and time to share. Leaders advance one lesson, one new idea, one newly developed skill, at a time . . . . one at a time, time after time, over a long time. Leadership is a deliberate, intentional path.
Are you set square in the middle of the majority with little progress to show? Or, are you migrating toward the minority by being one determined to grow and move forward? Leadership is indeed, with all certainty, where the minority rules.
Join the minors and Celebrate Success.