Healthy Leaders Are Restless Seekers Live Life as a Perpetual Student
Five words that will transform anyone’s life: Seek and you shall find, spoken by Jesus of Nazareth. We understand these words to refer to spiritual truths. But they are true in any area of life in which we need answers. What kind of seeking is required?
Restless seeking. Below, I will to share how a leadership expert demonstrated restless seeking to me.
John Maxwell Got My Attention
As I mentioned in recent articles, two months ago I attended a leadership conference hosted by Dr. John C. Maxwell. He said something remarkable that served to demonstrate how he became the leader he is today.
One of his guest speakers, Liz Wiseman, author of the book Multipliers, gave a riveting presentation on leadership. When she concluded, Dr. Maxwell stood up and gave her accolades for what she shared. Then, his tone became more serious.
He candidly shared that he is not doing well in the specific areas of leadership which Ms. Wiseman presented. He publicly expressed that what she shared opened his eyes, and immediately following the conference he planned to sit down with his inner circle to ask them how he can improve his leadership in these areas.
I was stunned by his comments. John Maxwell has written approximately 70 books on leadership, selling well over 25 million copies. Many universities use his books in their leadership curriculums. He is sought after as a speaker and leadership consultant at the most prestigious places in the world from national governments to military academies. Liz Wiseman has only written one book. Yet the highly accomplished Dr. Maxwell considered himself a student during her presentation. Further, he publicly revealed the way her material impacted him and his plans to apply it to his personal leadership. Remarkable.
In the following hours and days, I reflected on what Dr. Maxwell did. I concluded that for John to listen to Liz and immediately get up to say what he did, he had to be fulfilling the role of a perpetual student, a restless seeker.
How Restless Seekers Think
The best leaders tell themselves the following. This is how they think. This is who they are.
- What is my next step for growth? “I will never arrive” is their attitude for every area of importance in life and leadership. “What is the next step?” must be the question we are always seeking to answer, no matter how accomplished we become.
- I can learn from anyone. Liz Wiseman has written one book. Dr. Maxwell has written seventy. He could have easily allowed his mind to default to auto-pilot while she spoke. But he must have been thinking instead, “Is there something here I don’t know? Is there something I can apply?” This is humility at its best. What a lesson this is for us. It’s tempting to let our minds wander when someone less experienced is speaking. But when we do, we lose an opportunity for growth.
- I admit to myself and others that I don’t know it all. This thinking keeps us grounded. And it keeps us alert for opportunities to learn from others. Leaders who “know it all” always stop growing. They stop being fresh. They are rarely inspired or engaged.
- I am always seeking, restlessly. Like you, there is a calling on my life. I believe the more I grow, the farther I go. So I commit to be restless in how I pursue personal growth.
- I say “let me learn from you” more than “let me teach you.” Leaders have so much to offer, but they should be intentional to teach at the right time. They must guard themselves from constantly pontificating and teaching. Instead they must increase their interest in learning.
As I watched Liz Wiseman, I also took notes. But I confess, inwardly I questioned her theories and presentation. Subconsciously I wondered, “Who is she to teach me leadership?” But my mentor, Dr. Maxwell, who knows so much more than I, taught me a lesson in humility that day which I will never forget.
Let us not settle to be merely seekers. Let us commit to be restless seekers.
What I Am Reading Now: Billy Graham in Quotes
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