Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Wise Man Listens To Advice

Just about everybody recognizes the little man with the tiny black mustache carrying a cane, sporting baggy pants, clumsy shoes and a Derby hat.

In fact, in the l920's Charlie Chaplin was the most famous person on the planet. Born into poverty, he worked on stage to support himself and by age 17 he was a veteran performer. Then in 1918 he did something unheard of: at 29 he signed the entertainment industry's first million-dollar contract!

But Chaplin was successful not just because he had talent and drive, he was also teachable. He kept learning and perfecting his gift. Even when he was at the height of his popularity, the highest paid performer in the world didn't rest on his laurels. No, he said,
When I watch one of my pictures I pay attention to what the audience doesn't laugh at. If several audiences don't laugh at a stunt I tear it apart and try to discover what's wrong. On the other hand, if I hear laughter I hadn't expected, I ask myself why that particular thing rang the bell with the audience.

You'll never become a great leader until you become a great learner. Learning requires submission, and submission ain't something we're comfortable with. We think submission is just for "those other people who need to be led." This is especially true in our early years when we're sure we already know it all, and use every opportunity to prove it.

Engaging a leadership coach requires a willingness to submit to others. If you're not teachable, you're not reachable. The more you think you know, the less likely you are to place yourself under the influence of those who really know and can help you. This is especially true when you view yourself as more capable, passionate or talented than the folks around you.

Wisdom always seeks counsel! A wise man knows his limitations, only a fool believes he has none. Only the naive or arrogant operate under the assumption that they can make all the right calls without input from others.

It's not what your coach knows, it's what he sees that makes him valuable to you. He's an extra pair of eyes. So why be without them?

So what exactly does a leadership coach do? Observe, instruct, inspire. At first, the thought of having someone evaluate you may be intimidating. But think about it, people are watching you anyway, so why not plant a coach amongst the crowd.

Look for an environment where you'll be coached, not just paid. In your early years what you learn is more important than what you earn. Actually, what you learn early determines what you earn later. What you don't know can hurt you, it can put a lid on your potential. You owe it to yourself and those who depend on you, to open the doors of evaluation.

And don't let it stop with you. Pass on what you've been given to somebody else. Freely you have received, freely give. "But I'm too young, nobody's going to take me seriously." Forget all of that. You're not responsible for knowing everything. You're just responsible for sharing what you know with others. As you pour into their cup what others have poured into yours, they'll go farther, faster too. So, get a coach and be blessed. Become a coach and be a blessing to others!

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