What do we really know about leaders, learn exactly how to follow and ideally emulate them. Perhaps you can name the leaders in the forefront of their industry or profession. Maybe you think you might be more successful if you could be more like them, so you study their work, purchase their books and may be look for their organization. Even if you have studied everything you can think about them, and understand the key to their success, you do not know it all. There is something else you should do.
Your search for excellence is a noble journey. Unfortunately, the road often leads to frustration and to rather unhealthy triumphant success when seemingly small things are overlooked. Sometimes just a simple thing is the key to solving the barriers of performance that have been contained, finally achieving your goals with greater ease. What learning teaches or has taught us? This has been around for decades that learning was the common way to mastering a profession or art. Today the school is the conventional response, with the knowledge disseminated via conference rooms, online courses and e-mail exchanges with teachers. Connections are occasional and not very personal. Today we are more isolated from people who have to learn.
The technology makes it easy for leaders to protect their personal space and keep their distance from learners. Yes, we learn, but we do not learn enough. We do not learn the important part. No matter how carefully we listen to what others say, no matter how closely we look at what they do, imitation is imperfect because we do not really understand why they do what they do. We must be close enough to understand the back story. If we really want to learn from the other person, we must be close enough to hear them breathe.
Leaders in their profession have made thousands of tiny decisions that, in combination, have allowed them to operate at high levels. We must also work to understand their value system and how they came to make those choices. This is how successful leaders have learned from past success.
- Benjamin Franklin served as an apprentice to his brother James to learn the printing trade. The success of Franklin with a printer later financed his kite flying and business policies.
- James Lick was the richest man in California when he died in 1876. He learned the art of creating pianos from his father, to master those skills was the cornerstone in building his fortune.
- Levi Strauss learned the clothing business by working side by side next to his older brothers Jonas and Louis in New York City. Six years later he moved to San Francisco to open the store, and soon found an opportunity to apply what he knew to make rough trousers for gold miners.