The title says it all.
One of the wisest men and most brilliant leaders I personally know on the face of planet, did not just gain his insight from sitting around. He told me his secret and I want to share it with you.
This man is, as of yesterday, 70-years-old. Last year alone traveled over 115,000 miles across the United States and around the world to places in Europe and Africa. These weren’t joy rides or vacations, these were philanthropic based trips. When I think of this man and the conversations I have had with him over the years walking through Barnes & Noble and sitting at Starbucks, I think of some of the following traits: humble, wise, caring, concerned, empathetic, slow-to-speak, knowledgeable, compassionate, well respected, a good listener, hard working, dilegent, an effective communicator, a motivator, a go-getter……and the list goes on and on.
These are all leadership traits that one day I hope people will be able to see in me. They are qualities vital to the success of a leader. One day, as I was sitting having a conversation with this man, I asked him his secret to successful leadership. Though everything he said was powerful, there was one thing that has recently struck a chord with me.
His secret: always be willing to learn and to be led.
This man would often send me books and articles that were relevant to my life and my interests. Whenever I talked with him he was always reading at least one or two books about leadership or productivity, communication, faith or life.
In addition to reading books, he told me that he was able to relate to people almost 50 years younger than himself because he constantly strived to be current. He would always be up on the news, politics and sports. He listens to podcasts and he attends conferences (if he is not already speaking at them) and he is always reading. He explained to me one day that as a leader if you’re not learning you grow stagnant. You may have a bit of natural leadership in your blood, but that only makes you a good leader. To be a great leader, you must be willing to be led by other great leaders. You have to realize your need to grow. Once you have humbled yourself and opened yourself enough to be willing to learn, you will be a successful leader.
This man is not only a leader, he is an avid learner. According to him you cannot be a leader without first being willing to learn and be humble enough to be led by others experiences. This incredible leader’s name is Don, but to me, he is Grandpa.