It's that simple. That obvious.
It's a posture to take. The best leaders I know are always in a position to learn, even though they teach, coach, train, implement the vision, and more. Leaders, at least the good ones, are always learners. And they keep a learning attitude throughout their lives.
Lifelong learning begins with mindset. Researchers call it "growth mindset" versus "fixed mindset".
At its essence, the concept is simple. It's about assumptions.
Fixed mindset is the assumption that you've got what you've got. You can't change. You can't get better. Some people have certain qualities and those qualities are fixed. They won't change because they can't change.
Growth mindset is the assumption that your character and skills can be cultivated with effort, time, and intention.
The world is constantly changing. New technologies, methodologies, approaches, procedures, and thinking come at us with meteor-storm intensity.
We know this. And we live with it, knowing we don't have the ability to take it all in.
But, we can get better. We can learn something new and growth mindset is about lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is about a few simple habits.
Read a lot
This is basic. But it's easy to allow the meteor storm to manage our time - which is terrible time-management. The meteor storm puts read-time on the fringes. I schedule time to read into my day. In fact, the busier I am, the more important it is for me to read. Scripture, the daily news from parts of the world important to me, books to help improve performance, and novels. All these are critical. None of them will get read, if "reading" isn't on my calendar. And, for the record, audiobooks totally count. Make the most of drive-time or exercise-time by listening to a book.
Reflect even more
Reflection is the peanut butter to reading's jelly. It's not necessary or even helpful to take in massive amounts of information, facts and stories without process. Reflection involves processing input - connecting disparate dots and ideas. Reflection can be internal, verbal, or written. Whatever works best for you. (Some of us write a daily blog.) But reflection must be intentional and cannot be skipped.
Listen With Purpose
We've thought about this here. More than once. Listening is a necessary part of the growth mindset. Learning from family members, colleagues, or the person in front of you in the coffee line is a critical part of this. See what you can learn from people. From all people.
Iteration is a part of this learning process. This means try stuff. Set yourself up for small wins. Or small failures. Don't "Go big, or go home." Experimentation is allowing yourself and your team to try new things while the stakes are low. Figure out what works. Reflect. Iterate. And try again - learning throughout the entire process. A culture of experimentation paves the way for massive innovation.
We learn the best lessons through failure. It's not easy to fail. It's never fun. But we all have. We all do. We all will.
Explore. Fail. Iterate. Grow. And thoughtfully move forward.
That's how we learn.
That's how we create.
That's how we lead.