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Being a Student

We’re just hold’n court, my great grandfather would say when asked what he and I had been up to all morning in his grist mill. Settled low in his husk covered worn bottom chair, Papa spun colorful yarns of his past business ventures, river excursions and more big plans, seeding my mind with lessons of life. All the while he kept a working eye on the heavy mill stone that transformed the customer’s grain from gold kernels to the fodder for golden bread tomorrow.

Effective leaders spend a lot of their time teaching. Seldom is it in formal settings, like a workshop or training session. If you watch them closely, you will note the ones who produce outstanding results and build future leaders, are always teaching, even when they appear to be doing something else.

Our world no longer moves at the slow and steady melody of an old fashion grist mill. Yet I have observed that the sit-for-a-short-spell approach to passing on the important lessons and strategies is still used by the best leaders/teachers, even in the high-speed tempo of business today. In our self-inflicted attention deficient work world, holdin’ court just doesn’t register as a viable learning option to some high potential managers who are on the fast track to a larger leadership role. Like the intelligent high school youth who failed the class because she didn’t like the teacher, I see some of the smartest young managers loosing their place in the succession line to the top because they foolishly insist that their mentor needs to, as they say, understand me and my style …adapt to how I like to learn.

Oftentimes the most important answers are not found in the trivia of information, but in the trials of the encounter. The world that encompasses our business, career, family and faith always rewards the humble and determined student who today engages gladly in the grinding transformation that produces the golden opportunities tomorrow.

Working Journal Entry:
Who is your current mentor/teacher? How does she/he prefer to communicate? Are you acting like it is your responsibility to pass or fail in learning the lessons of leadership and life?

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