To learn you first have to be ignorant

I am currently studying a foreign language that is very foreign to me. As some of you are aware, I live and work in the Philippines as a missionary. One of the languages spoken here is Tagalog (Filipino), and I am studying the language now. Tagalog is heavily based on Spanish – of which I know nothing about. I took 3 years of French in High School and 1 in college. No Spanish. At all.

So, learning Tagalog is proving to be a very difficult thing. But I’ve realized something in the process. To really learn the language, you have to be willing to try to speak it in public situations. And that means being willing to make mistakes. It means being willing to be laughed at (and laugh at yourself). It means being willing to be dumb; admit that you don’t know.

The same applies to our leadership. In order to grow, we must be humble and admit that we don’t know. We must look to others for guidance. We can’t take ourselves too seriously. And we have to admit, to ourselves and others, that in certain areas – we’re dumb.

Once we arrive at that level of clarity, we can being to move forward.

And if you are surrounded with great people, your humbleness will give them a chance to help you – and lead in their own right.

To become a great leader, first be willing to be dumb, and then you can be excellent.


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