A few years ago our oldest son had an issue. A shoelace issue. He learned to tie his shoes at a young age, but every time he went somewhere, his shoes kept untying. I thought for sure I could teach him again how to tie his shoe. I sat him down, again and again, showing him “the correct way” to tie his shoes. He never really got it, so I decided to do some research for him. I would help him out. I did a quick Google search and found thousands of entries on how to tie shoes properly. I kept instructing Shad to double knot his shoes because that’s how I learned to live my life without having to tie my shoes every two seconds.
One Google search result intrigued my interest the most, Professor Shoelace. He has a Youtube channel! That makes him official right? I quickly realized maybe I don’t know everything about tying my shoes like I thought I did. At the time, I was running long distances training for a 25k race. I had issues all the time with my feet hurting through my longer runs. Professor Shoelace had tips about lacing and tying my shoes that would keep my feet from hurting.
Professor Shoelace instructs people that if you need to double knot your shoes, then you’re not tying your shoes correctly. Shad and I were watching this video together and Shad laughed at me. I felt attacked by the Professor.
Shad and I kept watching his Youtube channel and I kept learning new ways and methods to tie and lace my shoes.
I quickly realized that I had minimal knowledge of how to tie my shoes. I thought for sure I was going to be proven correct when I did the Google search. I wasn’t really interested in learning to tie shoes. I was more interested in finding information that showed how right I was so I could show Shad how smart I was. That’s not what happened.
I confused my ability to accomplish a task with reasonable success as knowing all there was to know about tying shoes. The reality is that the world we live in is changing. Just because we can accomplish something, doesn’t mean we know all about that particular topic or issue.
I believe we are on the verge of amazing potential in our culture, but potential doesn’t necessarily translate into improvement or success. The definition of potential is having or showing the capacity to become or develop into something in the future. So the question is, how do we evolve into something in the future that is great? Teachability is the key to improvement.
Industries that have made America what it is today are changing. They must change. Careers are changing. If we genuinely want to reach our full capacity of potential, I believe it starts with how teachable we can become and remain. I have written about my thoughts in previous blog posts about how I think organizations can work among the different generations represented in our workplaces. We must realize why we do what we do.
I’m convinced that if we as leaders were to remain teachable, we’d reach our potential and inspire others around us to do the same. There’s no shame in admitting when we are wrong or when we don’t know all the answers. In the organization I lead, we define teachability as the willingness and ability to relearn something we believed we already knew.
I think the most effective way to become and remain teachable is when you teach others what you know. At RE.THINK we have a mantra, “You don’t know jack until you teach a 3-year-old ____.”
No matter if that task is tying a shoe, potty training or disciplines like cleaning up after yourself or putting clean dishes away. We might know something, but that doesn’t mean we won’t have to learn or relearn some things along the way. The most effective way to become and remain teachable is to teach someone who has less experience than you that same task.
The culture we live in is changing around us. No longer can we simply say that we know something and never adjust to the changing climate around us. We must remain flexible and teachable. I believe that will lead us to the best days ahead!
What are some areas of your job that you believe you know?
What is one task that you could relearn to help you become and remain teachable?
What are some of the changing climates of your job that if you relearned could help you become more effective as a leader?