Continuous Learning and Constant Feedback

Excerpt from “Success Tools for CEO Coaches: Be a Learner, Leader, and Ladder” by Professor M.S.Rao, Ph.D.

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”—Oscar Wilde

I believe in two things strongly in my life: continuous learning and constant feedback. I highlighted them in my book, “Success Tools for CEO Coaches: Be a Learner, Leader, and Ladder,” from the perspective of coaching. The book consists of 21 chapters, and is packed with case studies, stories, anecdotes, and illustrations. It contains my 32 years of experiences in varied capacities as an executive coach, mentor, educator, author, and speaker; emphasizes the importance of coaching for career advancement; helps you locate the fish and show the way for others to avail the opportunities; and calls upon you to become a learner, leader, and ladder to make a difference in the lives of others. Here are a few excerpts from the book:

Chapter 1: There are a number of leaders who are learners; there are some leaders who walked their talk and became true leaders; and there are a few leaders who became ladders for others. However, there are the rarest breed of leaders who are a blend of learning, leading, and laying ladders for others. Mahatma Gandhi was such a leader who learned continuously, led by example, and served as a ladder for others throughout his life. There are many leaders who were influenced by Mahatma Gandhi, namely Martin Luther King Jr., Khan Adbul Ghaffar Khan, James Lawson, Lech Wałęsa, Steve Biko, Benigno Aquino Jr., Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Chapter 2: There is often much debate about whether knowledge is superior to money. Knowledge gets distributed, while wealth gets accumulated. Knowledge has many friends, while wealth has many foes. Knowledge grows when shared, while money decreases when distributed. You protect wealth, while knowledge protects you. Hence, knowledge is superior to wealth. To go further, knowledge is wealth and, in fact, more than wealth. Knowledge makes the world move. We have so many creations because of knowledge. It is always knowledge that precedes money. You can acquire lots of wealth from your knowledge. People may respect you externally by looking at your material possessions in the first impression. However, it is your inner wealth of knowledge that ultimately gets more attention.

You can make money out of your knowledge, but not knowledge out of money. To both make and retain money, you need knowledge. Hence, knowledge is superior to wealth. Knowledge is intangible and invaluable, while money is mostly tangible and valuable. Knowledge commands true respect, while money commands artificial respect. Money gives you temporary fame, while knowledge gives you permanent fame even after death. Above all, money comes and goes, while knowledge remains with you forever. Therefore, knowledge is superior to money. For instance, when people who have knowledge meet people who have money, the people with knowledge get money and the people with money gain knowledge. But the people with knowledge still keep their knowledge with them intact and walk away richer with money. It indicates the importance of knowledge over money.

There are entrepreneurs who lost their money but their knowledge brought them back on track and ensured their ultimate business success. For instance, entrepreneurs Richard Branson and Donald Trump staged smart comebacks even though they had financial setbacks for some time. Most of their friends gave up after their bankruptcy, but these entrepreneurs learned lessons and regained their lost ground through their knowledge.

Chapter 10: I was in Kuala Lumpur to preside as a judge for Global Leadership Awards (GLA) – 2012, Malaysia on April 20, 2012. I met my friend, Norman, and gifted him my authored book, which he had been asking me about for a long time. We discussed various aspects of global leadership challenges, and he spoke with great interest about showing the fish to the people. I was impressed with his ideas and insights. As a leadership educator and author, I am curious to listen and learn from everyone, and I often talk of teaching people how to catch fish so they learn the art of fishing and catch fish regularly and enjoy a good meal. My aim is to make people confident and independent in my training and teaching programs. Hence, I have been emphasizing in my training sessions to show fish to others as people are already experts in catching fish in the present world.

In fact, there are a number of opportunities lying hidden, and people often don’t know how to spot and exploit them. I have seen several people in my life who are very intelligent and hard working but remain in the same position as they don’t think unconventionally to identify opportunities. People often have preconceived notions and a fixed mindset, and work within the limited sphere, thus, not channeling their hidden talents and potential properly. Often, I find people blaming circumstances for their problems without searching for solutions. They blame people around them and often God for their problems.

People must stop criticizing, condemning, and complaining about circumstances. They must learn to view problems as prospects, and must act as per the prevailing circumstances and search for opportunities out of threats, and exploit the same to grow rapidly. Above all, they must learn the fact that it is not good to take fish from someone every time. It is good to learn the art of fishing; it is great to spot the location of the fish and enjoy it; and it is still greater if they show people where the fish are so that people thank them and express their gratitude. Hence, keep spotting opportunities, enjoy reaping the rewards, and show the way for others to make a difference.

Chapter 14: If you want to grow quickly in your career or personal or professional life, you must acquire two great habits: continuous learning and constant feedback. Continuous learning is one of the traits of leaders outlined by many authors, including Stephen R. Covey. However, few authors highlight the importance of accepting feedback. The exceptions are Ken Blanchard and Marshall Goldsmith. Ken Blanchard said that feedback is the breakfast of champions, while Marshall Goldsmith emphasized constant feedback to go from one level to another level in his book, “What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There—How Successful People, Become Even More Successful!” In fact, most of people are successful because of accepting constant feedback through formal and informal means. Both means are essential to growth, but it depends on the topic, situation, size of audience, or relations the feedback receiver has to adopt whether to follow formal or informal means, or both. At times, people misunderstand negative feedback as criticism and positive feedback as praise. In fact, both are meant to bring out behavioral changes among people.

Excerpt from “Success Tools for CEO Coaches: Be a Learner, Leader, and Ladder” by Professor M.S.Rao, Ph.D. For more information, visit: http://www.amazon.in/SUCCESS-COAHES-LEARNER-LEADER-LADDER/dp/9351102491

Professor M.S.Rao is an international leadership guru and the author of 30 books, including “21 Success Sutras for Leaders,” which was selected as a Top 10 Leadership Book of the Year – 2013 by San Diego University. He is the recipient of the International Coach of the Year 2013 award. His Amazon URL is: http://www.amazon.com/M.-S.-Rao/e/B00MB63BKM and he can be reached at: msrlctrg@gmail.com