Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.

John F. Kennedy

 In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Eric Hoffer

 What is important is to keep learning, to enjoy challenge, and to tolerate ambiguity. In the end there are no certain answers.

Martina Horner

The purpose of learning is growth, and our minds, unlike our bodies, can continue growing as we continue to live.

Mortimer Adler

No judgments, learning space and listening carefully are my goals.

Emma Thompson

At times when we find life to be difficult and our thoughts burdensome and muddled, other people’s lives can suddenly seem to be very uncomplicated and sorted out – especially the high-flyers. It is in such times that we tend to talk ourselves down: ‘I will never be able to do that’; ‘I am not as gifted’; ‘I don’t have the same opportunities’; ‘I have reached my limit’; ‘there’s no light in the tunnel’. These thoughts obstruct us from seeing opportunities to learn something new, to become creative in our thinking, to hear the voice of our intuition and to find resolve in our spiritual lives.

Real leaders, you will agree, are not those who had one success story and then try to repeat it over and over again with nothing new to add. They are not those who sit back, fold their arms and declare that there is nothing left for them to learn – nothing of importance at least. To the contrary, real leaders are those people who over a lifetime were able to adjust and find both new ways, new wisdom to go forward with as well as new inspiration to beat the challenges.

Indeed, as JF Kennedy realised, leadership and learning are indispensable to each other. Not only is the ‘know it all’ attitude a sign of lacking leadership, but learning in itself is a process of leading. The word ‘leadership’ implies the risk of going first. It implies new territory. It implies change. It implies learning. And so have you, many times in life, led yourself – and at times others without necessarily knowing it – by what you’ve done and by what you’ve said.

There are of course many areas of learning, but I believe the most difficult as well as most important is the learning within. That is, how do I need to adjust my life to sustain my being in a meaningful way, to be a better person, of more value to others and to achieve my purpose in life. I think this is the core of a person’s leadership and learning.

There is learning in observing and making sense of the changes in our world, how it influence us and what impact they will have on our future. It is in this sense that it is much more important to be a learner every day than to be perceived as a learned person. As Eric Hoffner said,In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.

Then there is learning that comes from listening, not only for facts, but for emotions and messages that relate to our conduct, communication and relationships in general. The real leader in you will know to allow those messages to get pass your ego defenses for they lead to growth. It is a much wanted skill in leadership to be able to create learning space, withhold judgment and listen carefully.

And then, lastly, there is learning that results from letting go of the need to control and having a quiet mind. We sometimes learn more about ourselves and life when it doesn’t come to us in words but in a belief and an experience of peace. As Paul of the Bible said: the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds. I also like what Martha Nussbaum wrote:

To be a good human being is to have a kind of openness to the world, an ability to trust uncertain things beyond your own control, that can lead you to be shattered in very extreme circumstances for which you were not to blame. That says something very important about the condition of the ethical life: that it is based on a trust in the uncertain and on a willingness to be exposed; it’s based on being more like a plant than like a jewel, something rather fragile, but whose very particular beauty is inseparable from that fragility.

Author : Dr Gerhard van Rensburg