I follow a friend on Twitter named Christie Ruffino who frequently posts updates that start with these words:
“Today I learned…”
Here’s a sample of what she posts after those words–
- that no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
- that complaining, grumbling and fear are contagious, but so are joy, gratefulness and hope. Your choice!
- that the best predictor of the future is the past.
- to not let my decisions be decided by my fears.
- that reason often makes mistakes, but conscience never does.
Do you see why I like these posts?
They’re short. I like short. And they’re relevant. I can think about a post for a few seconds or a few minutes depending on what I’m doing at the time. If I want a complete, philosophical meal, I read Plato or Kierkegaard; when I want a tasty, thoughtful snack, I like short-attention span posts like the ones listed above. If you agree, follow Christie Ruffino on Twitter here.
But I like these posts for a couple of additional reasons, too.
“Today I learned…” communicates humility.
Effective leaders spend a considerable amount of time teaching and coaching others. But the motivation of the leader for teaching others matters greatly.
When a leader assumes a position of ego, the statement, “Let me teach you something” may be heard as, “If I can have silence, please, while I prepare to toot my own horn.” No one wants to learn from that kind of leader.
But when a leader shares what he or she has learned out of excitement for the subject matter and a passion to accelerate learning in others, everyone wins.
The best leaders say things like, “Do you know what I learned?” or “Can I show you something I learned the hard way?” Openers like that communicate humility, a sense that leader and learner sit side-by-side sharpening each other.
“Today I learned…” communicates an openness to learning.
Effective leaders enter into each situation with the intent either to rediscover something already known that bears repeating, or to find something new that’s so good it must be shared.
A couple of days ago, I listened to a keynote address by my friend and training partner, Sam Glenn. I’ve heard Sam speak a dozen times, and so I could have entered the room saying to myself, “There’s nothing new for me here.” But I didn’t do that. In fact, I took notes. In fact, I’ve taken very similar notes each time I’ve heard Sam speak. So why did I take notes…again? Even though Sam’s message remains consistent through the years, I am not the same person I was when I heard him speak last. That means my ears, my thinking, my attitude, my point-of-view were all new.
Sam said, “There are three kinds of people in this room. The #1 says, ‘I’m not going to learn anything new today.’ The #2 says, ‘Let’s wait and see if this is any good.’ But the #3 says, ‘I can’t wait to learn!’
As a leader, I choose to be like #3, a learner at all times instead of a prisoner waiting to be released or a critic needing to be impressed.
If a leader is one who continually learns, and if a leader is one who causes others to learn, do you define yourself as a leader? If you do, practice saying with humility and passion these words: TODAY I LEARNED…!