How Little I Know
I have really enjoyed this year. It has not come without its trials and challenges but the blessings have so outweighed any of the difficulties. There is just so much to be grateful for.
Now this may come as a surprise, but one of the things that I am most grateful for is a deeper awareness of just how little I know. If I leave it at this, many of you might be somewhat concerned. After all, you invest time in this blog looking for insights — not the ramblings of someone who knows nothing.
But this awareness of how little I know has been really freeing and exciting. The truth of the matter is that I am most likely more than halfway through this journey called life, and I still feel like so much of it is an experiment.
There are some things that I am quite confident in, but much of what I encounter day by day and moment by moment has a certain degree of risk or uncertainty to it. I don’t know for certain if what I say or do will lead to the outcome I hope for. I don’t know for certain if this decision or that decision will lead to fruitful results.
Here are some examples:
• Should we hire this coach?
• Take on more space?
• Write another book?
• Move this person in the company to this role?
• Advise my daughter this way?
• Share this thought with my son?
• Make this decision for my family?
• Invest in this project or opportunity?
In years past, I think I believed that I knew more than I actually do. And some of you might be saying, “Finally Harkavy, you are starting to get it, thank God!” But this new awareness of how much I still need to learn has caused me to observe leaders a bit differently.
Here are three big observations that might help you as well.
1. Many of the greatest leaders are the hungriest learners. Examples: Morris at 73 years old, very successful and taking copious notes in one of our recent workshops. Dom, a very seasoned CEO who just retired, and his deep life questions over our first glass of wine. One of my old mentors, Clem, with his constant questions about any and all topics. Questions, learning, listening — all three of them. They are never too proud, never concerned with how little they might know on a topic, always asking, always interested, always learning, always growing, and never posing. They are what I call Life-Long Learners.
2. Many of the greatest leaders move slowly. This has not been me! I have been called Taz in past years and for good reason. The faster I move, the more I get done. Well maybe for a while, but the faster I move, the more I miss. If I move too fast, I don’t give myself the chance to reflect and assess. How am I doing as a husband, father, friend, servant and leader? If I move too fast, I miss the opportunity to allow others to lead, serve and grow — and this stunts the organization’s growth.
Great leaders not only move slower, but they talk slower as well. If I am rushing my conversations, I miss the opportunities to really connect with those around me. I miss the opportunities to hear not only what is being said, but what is behind what is being said (or not said). And as a leader, the clarity of my communication is vital. This is true not only at work but at home as well. My pace of speech can either serve to calm and bring clarity and comfort or it can serve to create angst, confusion and even panic.
3. Many of the greatest leaders are disciplined thinkers. They see thinking time — or as we at Building Champions call it, ON time — as one of their most important disciplines. Not only do they have this thinking time scheduled daily, but they have regular larger blocks of time scheduled for just thinking.
A few of us coaches take what we call “Sabbath days.” I hate when I go for long periods without them because I am running too hard. When I do get them, settling into that quiet place to pray, reflect, assess, question, seek and learn — getting to that quiet state of mind — can be hard work. But I always walk away refreshed and a better leader because of it.
As many of you know, I am striving to live my life on the foundation of God’s Word. For me, it comes down to this: I must draw closer to Him so that I can better serve Him by using the gifts He has given to me to serve and love those around me. That happens when I make the time to slow down, to be still, to reflect, assess, question, challenge, seek, learn and connect.
As we approach the holiday season — which can pull us in many directions — I encourage you to carve some time out to reflect and assess where you are at. Slow down. Be intentional.
Taking time to invest in yourself may be the greatest gift you can give yourself and those you serve this year.