The best of learning involves no school at all; “the world is school enough,” says George Leonard, a Zen philosopher and expert in Aikido. Our world today is opportunistic in its learning. Yet, there are no roadmaps, no curriculum, and no solidified outcomes. The path of mastery is not a goal; it is a process, a journey, every day in the boardroom, corner office, in the back office, and on the front line.
“By the middle of the morning, I feel as if my shoes are stuck in tar,” stated one CEO. There is no map to guide us on this journey or even to show it. The world “can be viewed as a prodigious journey against mastery” per Leonard. The good news is there are many others stuck in the tar by 10:00 am who share and learn together. An opportunistic perspective is we have many opportunities to advance our leadership mastery, every day. If you’ve ever had a tennis coach, think about your first lessons and how your teacher fed balls over the net. Your feet moved from side to side as you learned to use your racquet to take action and hit the ball over the net. The teacher knew your level of mastery in tennis and guided your learning pace to advance through different levels.
Learning requires practice in holding the racquet and watching the trajectory of the ball. Hitting the ball requires action, which means moving. Moving requires choice. Choice evolves mastery. Learning in action requires understanding your choices in effective leadership. Recognize the choices, sometimes oblique, that require being collaborative, inclusive, consensus-oriented, directive, cautious, influencing, or supportive.
None of us has had to lead through a pandemic, social unrest, incredibly serious social justice issues, vivid polarizing narratives, financial instability punctuated with members, friends, and family, literally fighting fires. So what! What does this mean? It means we keep moving forward, ask ourselves the tough questions, donate to causes, be a super role model to our homeschooling children, and connect with employees to ask, “How are you? What do you need?” Move toward the openings. If we listen, the world will be our teacher.