Leaders Know How to Learn

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Do you love Italian food? I do!!! This week, I took my mom to the New Mill restaurant in Southington, Connecticut. Amongst other tasty fare, she had two new “things.” Raw oysters and “ice” wine. The oysters were local oysters (Blue Point), from Connecticut. And raw. The wine was a sweet, white dessert wine from the vineyards around Niagara-on-the-Lake  (in Canada) just north of Niagara Falls.

We spit the veal meatballs (amazing!) and a roasted beet salad, but the highlights were the local oysters and the dessert wine. In nearly 80 years of global travel, she’d never had either. And she’s an amazing chef who has cooked for hundreds (thousands?!) and been to several cooking schools. But she’s never been brave enough to try raw oysters or ice wine. Well, in one night, she tried (and liked!) both. Mission accomplished!!!

The oysters were local. They were Blue Point Oysters from Connecticut, the Northwestern part of Long Island Sound. Delicious! Even for an oyster “virgin!”, such as my mother, these oysters were delicious. The shells were thick and possessed a medium level of salinity. The availability of Connecticut Blue Points during the fall/winter is more or less unparalleled in the North Atlantic oyster industry. Did I already say “delicious!”

The point of my sharing our “oyster” story is that leaders, true leaders, know how to learn. My mother, approaching her 80s (exact age never to be revealed!) is NOT too old to try oysters (or ice wine!). Great leaders, the world over, know how to learn.

This last weekend, we drove down to New Haven, Connecticut. Home to Pepe’s pizza and Yale. Pepe’s is one of the highest (and longest) rated pizzerias in the United States. May I recommend the quattro formaggi? She tried a new pizza and a new “type” of pizza. She loved both! Did I already say she is a great leader who knows how to learn?!

On a related note, Yale is one of the oldest and most prestigious Ivy League schools in the United States. It has a beautiful campus, located in New Haven, CT. My mother and I walked along the campus, viewed the old chapels and new dormitories and ‘people watched” over a cup of coffee and iced green tea. It was fun!

And what came to mind was that leaders know how to learn. Young or old, Asian, European, African or “American,” leaders know how to try new things. New raw oysters. New wine. New restaurants. New processes. New approaches. Great leaders know how to learn new things. Like ice wine. Like raw oysters. Great leaders know how to integrate new cultures. Great leaders know how to build upon their foundational value while experiencing new things, like veal meatballs. In short, great leaders know how to learn.

Whether a new system or new approach or new food or new drink or new algorithm or new team, great leaders know how to learn. They know how to assimilate. How to build. How to experiment. And how to value. Great leaders know how to learn. You already know this.

How about you? Do you know how to learn? Do you know how to open your eyes and experience the world while holding onto core values? Sounds easy. Is it? Great leaders know how to do it. Do you?

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]LeadStrategic.com.

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