Published by John Terry - The Black Belt Leader in Leadership · 11 December 2020
Posturing Yourself for Growth
By: John L. Terry, III - The Black Belt Leader
Yoga. Stretching and posing. It couldn't be that hard, that demanding? At least that's what I thought before I attended a class a few years back that was being taught in one of my friend's martial arts schools by his wife. For nearly an hour, we slowly and purposely moved from position to position, stretching, posing, reaching, arching, and breathing.
I felt pretty good when we finished. My muscles felt loose, the breathing had filled my body with oxygen. That good feeling lasted the rest of the evening. I showered and went to bed.
The next morning, I awoke. As I tried to roll out of the bed and start day two of our training camp, I discovered my body was resisting. Muscles I didn't even know I had in my body were screaming at me for the torture I had put them through the night before. As I met other fellow instructors at the camp, they too were feeling the effects of the Yoga class the night before. We were all moving a bit slower, more deliberate.
The first morning session, Tai Chi. More stretching, posing, reaching, arching, and breathing. It helped us work out some of the stiffness of the night before, so we could actually do the kicking and striking classes that would follow later in the day.
As I reflected at the end of this two-day Camp, I began to think back on the fact we had all been exposed to something new and unfamiliar. Even though we were all in good physical condition, our bodies had been taxed as we were challenged to learn something new, to move in a different way. The teacher had become a student once again, and personal growth took place as a result.
Leaders should be perpetual students, always learning. After all, you can't give to others what you do not possess yourself. That requires an intentional act on your part to put yourself in a position to be taught, to keep learning, growing, and maturing.
Once you stop learning, your effectiveness as a leader begins to diminish...and at some point, others stop following. You will cease to be a leader.
Good leaders are voracious readers, learning from the collective wisdom of other experts in leadership, influence, communication, team building, human behavior, emotional intelligence, time management, sales & marketing. and organization. They listen to podcasts, attend conferences, and consume teaching that makes them better.
A Black Belt Leader goes a step further. As a Sensei (Teacher), you can only become a better version of yourself if you're continually training from a Shihan (Master Teacher) or Soke (Senior Teacher) and adding to your skill set and knowledge base on a consistent and regular basis.
After all, you can only teach to the level you have been taught.
Leadership is a journey, not a destination. There is always something more to learn, something that can always be improved. That's why great leaders have their own mentors and coaches. Men and women who speak into their lives on a regular basis - stretching, teaching, inspiring, challenging, and correcting them to improve their ability to lead themselves and others at a higher level.
But how do you make the most of these times when you're together? How do you assure you're positioned to maximize your learning opportunity from a book read, listening to a podcast, attending a webinar or conference, participating in a mastermind group, or having a one-on-one with a mentor or coach?
Let me offer four tips to posture yourself for growth:
- Come prepared. Begin by setting expectations in your mind. Thinking into the session you're about to go through. Entering into any teaching or training session with a mindset that you're there to learn, open to hearing and receiving new information, and challenging conventional ways of thinking positions your mind for growth. Come with an attitude that you're going to learn something that will be useful, beneficial, to you. Remember, a closed mind can't learn.
- Be engaged. Don't be a passive participant. Remove all distractions, like your phone. Focus your attention on the speaker, listen intently to what is being shared. Take notes, if possible, because you're engaging different parts of your brain in the learning process which aids in learning and retention. Remember, deaf ears can't hear.
- Make application. Take what you're learning and apply it to your leadership. Every lesson you learn has little value if you don't act on it and apply it to your leadership. If you're not sharing what you're learning with those you're leading, you're depriving them of the opportunity to grow, mature, and get better. Remember, knowledge is the acquisition of information, but wisdom is the right use of knowledge. As Wisdom is the right use of knowledge.
- Keep returning. A Black Belt Leader is a SERIOUS STUDENT, not a Master. Great leaders keep coming back to refresh, re-learn, acquire new knowledge, and improve themselves. Black Belt leaders are accountable and submissive to the process of learning. Leaders never arrive, as the leadership journey never ends.
- Do you have a Shihan or Soke to continue your leadership development?
- Are you posturing yourself for growth every time you're in their presence?
Ray Kroc was right when he said, "As long as you're green, you're growing. Once you're ripe, you start to rot." Nobody wants to follow a rotten leader.
But if you're not posturing yourself for growth, you're not growing.