Leaders are readers, writers, thinkers, and doers, who are constantly sharpening their mental saw. Formal education is just the jumping-off point. Lifelong learning is your personal responsibility. Take the time to develop yourself—attend conferences, night classes, retreats, and/or coaching sessions. Invest more in yourself than in your stuff. Be greedy about acquiring intellectual capital for your dream. Don’t fear failure or the thought of looking foolish. Let go of your ego, live with childlike curiosity, and remember that the learning process is an imperfect one: Attempt. Fail. Adapt. Repeat.
“In the end, it is important to remember that we cannot become what we need to be by remaining what we are.”
- Max De Pree, Author of Leadership is an Art
Seek. Feedback. Regularly. Leaders crosscheck, gut-check, and reflect. Reflect every night (ten minutes), every week (one hour), every month (half day), and every year (full weekend). Ask yourself, “What’s working and why? What needs to be changed and how?” Regular reflection is a powerful feedback tool; so is asking others for their thoughts. Use a 360-degree feedback survey to collect diverse perspectives. But be careful: the higher you climb in an organization, the less likely you’ll get honest responses. So when do you find truth-tellers, keep them close.
“You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay? Your life does not get better by chance, it gets better by change.”
- Jim Rohn, American entrepreneur and motivational speaker