It was my father, Frank Llopis, who taught me the importance of accumulating wisdom – and how to go about it by being hungry to learn and courageous enough to disrupt the status quo. I also learned from him to embrace reciprocity in relationships and to respect those whose purpose it was to make those around them better – and that success comes most to those who are surrounded by people who want their success to continue.
Like many immigrants, my father was forced into survival mode. Having lost his mother country to Castro’s revolution, he had to renew and reinvent himself in America. Listening to my father’s story was like taking a course in survival. Throughout my life, my father would often remind me:
“If you enrich your mind with meaningful knowledge each day, it will grow stronger; if you put it to the test, it will grow wiser.”
Wisdom guides our thinking, attitude and overall mindset. It pushes us to break through boundaries, and to see beyond the obvious. It directs our personal reinvention and impacts how our leadership influences everything and everyone we come into contact with each day.
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As you travel on your own leadership journey, remember these three important ways to accumulate and cultivate more wisdom in the workplace.
Leadership should never be one-sided, nor should the leader always be the one generating the ideas or making the decisions. Leadership means actively listening and advancing the ideas of others (and injecting recommendations along the way to further strengthen or add value to them). If you are the type of leader that needs all of the attention, you will not seek to cultivate wisdom in others.
Reciprocity is the key; cultivating wisdom requires being in-touch with what matters most to your employees and giving them the room to express their opinions and put their ideas to the test. The more you can gauge and unleash the passionate pursuits of your employees – the more effective you will be in challenging them to stretch their thinking and expand their endless possibilities.
Promoting reciprocity within the leader-employee relationship is critical to embracing diversity of thought, to inspiring independent thinking, and to stimulating new ways of doing things.
Another role as a leader is to teach your employees how to overcome their biggest fears. When fear stands in your way, it’s difficult to cultivate wisdom – because you lack the confidence to take risks and introduce new ways of doing things.
By making risk your new best friend, you will at times face adverse circumstances – but in that adversity you will grow and gain more wisdom. On the other hand, if you constantly avoid risk, you will miss some of your greatest opportunities. As my father also told me: “Adversity is very big when it’s all you can see. But it’s very small when it’s surrounded by opportunity.”
Encouraging others to take risks, guiding them through the experience of failure and helping them to bounce back are the rewarding steps to cultivating wisdom together.
3. Respect Before Recognition
In today’s world of work, everyone’s perspectives should be valued – especially when you consider the complexities of the workplace and marketplace. Be grateful, respect others’ unique points of views, and allow others to see opportunities previously unseen. Give people the room to live with an entrepreneurial spirit and work with a generous purpose.
There’s nothing wrong with recognition – but too many people have become recognition addicts. Wisdom teaches us not to seek recognition alone, but to primarily seek respect, which is more lasting than recognition.
As my father taught me: The great difference between the recognized man and the respected man is the difference of the head and the heart. The recognized man appeals to the head where things are easily forgotten. The respected man captivates the heart. And the heart does not forget.
Leaders cultivate wisdom in others when they genuinely respect differences and those who disrupt the status quo for the betterment of a healthier whole. We can’t cultivate wisdom effectively and consistently unless we can maximize the potential of everything our leadership touches and influences.