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Creating Successful Leaders

Image via Maurice Kerrigan

With school back in session, you’ve probably seen kids with backpacks and lunchboxes waiting for the bus, or noticed the huge “back to school” section at your local Target, or maybe you’ve been one of those brave souls frantically rushing your kids out the door each morning. Whatever it may be, it’s likely September has reminded you of your own time in school, be it grade school, high school, or college, wherein your sole job was to learn.

It’s easy to slip into the mindset that that was then, this is now. We had school for learning, now it’s time for applying that knowledge in the real world. While this is true, adhering too strongly to such thinking can actually hinder your ability to excel. Because the world is continuously changing, we must embrace a mentality of continuous learning, and the way we pull that off is by keeping an open mind.

I know, “keeping an open mind” is about as cliché as it gets. It’s a phrase that can mean a whole heap of things and rarely gets questioned. So what do I mean when I say we must keep an open mind?

1. Put flexibility into practice. Be willing to change plans on the fly. Try out other people’s ideas. Don’t assume you know the answer right away.

2. Self-assessment is key. Are listening to others? Have you applied what you’ve most recently learned in any meaningful way?

3. There is no perfect way to do things. Strategies and methods need to be adapted to each new situation. The best learners use their environments to come up with a concoction of many different methods, tailored to the situation at hand.

4. Change is the only constant. And this is okay. Too often we wage a losing battle trying to control everything around us. You don’t need to fight that battle.

Don’t get entrenched in a one size fits all approach. You’ll only become frustrated. Be willing to listen, experiment and place yourself in the firing line of new experiences.

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