Why Leaders Must Broaden Their Perspectives How to Continually Bring New Groups of People into Your Life
I want to make two suppositions, I hope you will agree with:
- Each of us is highly influenced by the people groups we have interacted with since birth.
- Our current limitations are in large part influenced by these collective groups..
In this article, I want to invite you to list the people groups you have been around your entire life, then challenge you to actively, intentionally, and consistently broaden that list. Allow me to share with you my list.
As I work with leaders, I see most of their limitations are results of narrow viewpoints, what they perceive reality should be, because of what they have seen practiced around them.
In order for us to be more, we must think from a different viewpoint. Challenge our suppositions, habits, and practices. Broaden our worldview. Defy our strongly upheld beliefs. Test our ideas and ideals. It is imperative that we consistently bring new influences into our life. Otherwise we are likely to remain the same.
Here are the major groups I have been around and spent considerable time with since the day I was born:
- My family (father, mother, sister, two brothers)
- The church community I grew up in
- School, college, medical school, and residency colleagues
- A handful of friends
- Members of four non-profits, on whose boards I have served
- One business partner
- Close business associates
- Joanne, my wife of two years
- A handful of mentors and coaches
I created an expanded version of this list when I listed the specific people I remember in each category. I am thinking about the people that I spend the most time around, not necessarily those who made a positive impact on my life.
If you have moment, list yours. I was recently talking to a leader, and I challenged him in this area. His list was much smaller:
- Only child, so Mom and Dad
- High school, college peers
- A handful of friends
- Colleagues at one professional job
As I was talking to him, it was apparent to me and to him that many of the limitations of his leadership were simply due to a lack of exposure to different ways of thinking and existing with an open mind.
Here are three areas I want to you encourage to think about:
Broaden your exposure.
Regardless what you’ve done or who you’ve been, be disciplined to seek out different groups and widen your influences. Even if you have experienced much and been exposed to what you may consider a broad range of people, if you want to become more effective you must be intentional to continue this journey of bringing new people around you.
Be humble and open.
There is no use to be a part groups who challenge who you are now, if you don’t allow yourself to be challenged. What does it mean to be humble and open? Begin by embracing these principles:
- There is so much more we can learn.
- There is so much more we can be in all areas of life.
- What we believe and practice is not necessarily the best. It is one way that we have discovered so far. We can improve and deepen our understanding and wisdom.
- We should question what we know. When presented with new ideas and new people, we should ask ourselves, “Could this way be a better way?” This is not to be confused with uncertainty about our core foundations. This approach will make what we believe stronger, better, and more well rounded.
Those with whom you spend the most time may impact you most.
The people we spend the most time with are big influences in our lives. I am not going to say they are the biggest influences in our lives, because sometimes they are not. Of that list you wrote, now write what percentage of your time you currently spend with people in each group. Does this lend some insight and urge you to make any changes or additions?
For me now, as I look at my list, one area I want to look into in order to expand my world further is to serve our city government. I am thinking and praying about it. Why? I not only want to be a positive servant leader of the community I live in, I also want to be disciplined in practicing what I wrote about here: to push myself to be exposed to different groups with differing focuses and perspectives.
What new groups of people or influences do you think you can bring into your life?
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