Date Added: September 2013
Note: This article appeared in the September 15, 2013 issue of The Green Bay Press-Gazette.
Many people seek to learn and are thirsty for knowledge. It is a natural desire to improve ourselves, becoming more successful at work, at home and in our communities.
There is a saying, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and open the door, I will come in.” Despite our desire to be more successful, how often do we hear the knock and answer the door?
While we want more wisdom, we don’t hear the knock or choose not to answer the door for three main reasons. First, we fear “looking bad.” Second is because we don’t know what we don’t know. And third is ego.
Fear is common in all areas of our lives and is a paradox because we fear admitting we have fear of anything. We fear asking questions because it may demonstrate inferiority; however, co-workers may knock at our door to offer assistance and we ignore them.
I ask others to always offer solutions to problems so we can have dialogue to solve issues vs. just complaining about problems. This is my way of saying “Here I am!” Unfortunately, there are times when we simply cannot think of solutions and are seeking guidance.
My knock is ignored because people fear coming to me without solutions. I won’t let them in without solutions, so I have created fear. They are knocking for assistance and I’m not answering. How often does this occur with you and your leader? Employees knock and leaders aren’t listening.
The second item is not knowing what we don’t know. How frequently do we not hear a knock because we don’t know we should be listening for it and really need to learn something?
When speaking to high school, college or young adults, I share stories from past mistakes and say, “You may not listen today because you believe this will not affect you and you will need to experience the mistake yourself to learn.” This is my way of saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” We all do this because we don’t feel we need to open the door until it’s necessary.
The third reason relates to ego vs. humility – my largest struggle when I fail to hear the knock and open the door. A recent example was that I lacked knowledge about something and knew another individual possessed the knowledge. It happened to be someone I don’t get along with so I initially didn’t ask because ego took over.
Humility eventually won out and I asked for assistance. Fortunately, his humility also prevailed as he heard the voice, answered, and has been extremely helpful.
In our daily interactions, we need to acknowledge being both the giver and receiver of communication. As givers, we need to proactively shout to others, “Here I am!” We need to knock to offer assistance. And we need to embrace others when the door is opened to us.
As receivers, we need to put our ego aside when someone knocks at our door. We need to concede we don’t know what we don’t know when told, “Here I am. I can help.” We need to recognize fear and open the door.
The open door signifies having an open mind to learning, to becoming more successful, to wisdom and guidance. It is your choice to listen for the knock, hear the voice and open the door. Are you up to the challenge?
David Yeghiaian is committed to leading people on a life-changing journey to being great leaders. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org