“If anyone can show me, and prove to me, that I am wrong in thought or deed, I will gladly change. I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm.” – Marcus Aurelius
When I read this passage in “Meditations” I grabbed my pen and wrote down the first thought that came to mind:
“This is the foundation of leadership.”
Why this reaction?
Because leadership flows from the inside-out.
Let’s focus on two phrases.
“I will gladly change.”
I am willing to alter my thinking and plans based on new information. I see change as a natural and necessary part of my leadership growth. I do not fear change, I welcome it.
“I seek the truth.”
The truth is more important than my personal agenda. I am willing to dig deeper to get to the heart of the matter, even if I fear what I might learn. I push through avoidance and denial.
Consider the alternative.
“I will not change.”
The world should adapt to my beliefs. They should change. Let it be. Change is too difficult. I choose comfort and complacency.
“I avoid the truth.”
This is not my problem. They are wrong. I only listen when I agree. If I ignore this it will go away. Some things are better left alone.
Set in contrast it is fairly easy to see the dangers of denial, yet, we are all tempted to close our minds. To protect our turf. To stick with what we know, (or imagine).
Who would you trust?
“It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm.”
Most of the mistakes I’ve made in my life and as a leader can be summed up in this statement. When I resist change and truth it inevitably leads to negative consequences.
No trust. No leadership.
We put our trust in people who trust themselves.
We learn to trust ourselves by inviting truth that will expand our self-awareness and by following through on the changes the truth requires.
There is no safety in pretending not to know.
As you approach the week ahead, consider how these two statements influence your life and leadership.
Are you actively seeking feedback, inviting disagreement and listening to ideas that may contrast with your existing beliefs?
Are you willing to change your perceptions and actions based on what you learn?