The lessons are everywhere…from everyone
We’ve received a couple of fairly strong emails over the past few days. They’re in relation to an event that Business Chicks is sponsoring called Find Your Strongest Life. This event is designed to teach what the most happy and successful women do differently and wait for it….it’s presented by a man.
One woman curtly wrote “And you expect us to hear this from a man?” Another said (in a longer and more courteous email) “This sounds like a great session, but I won’t be attending, because I am not comfortable with a man telling me how to achieve happiness and success and balance in my work life.”
When I was asked to sponsor the event I jumped at the chance because it’s not just any man presenting, it’s Marcus Buckingham, and he’s one of my all time business heroes. He wrote First Break All the Rules and also Now Discover Your Strengths. Both books greatly enriched the way I do business and I often refer back to them whenever I have an issue or need a reminder on management techniques or getting the best out of my team.
Marcus is not for a moment claiming to be an expert on women. What he is, is an expert researcher. He did a show with Oprah and a group of selected women and what they learned prompted him to commission a large body of research into the subject. This research revealed that despite the strides we have made towards equality, women have become less happy with their lives. The research also showed that as women get older they get sadder (which is the opposite to men – as they age they get happier.)
I find this stuff fascinating and am really looking forward to the event. However I didn’t want this be a blog post defending our position of putting a man on stage to talk with a bunch of women. What I wanted to raise here is that we should be open to receiving learning from everyone. A person need not be the same sex for us to learn from. They need not be in a higher position for us to learn from. They need not be smarter for us to learn from.
I try and look for the lessons everywhere. I watch the guy making my coffee in the morning and I see the way he applies himself to getting each cup right and perfecting the technique each time. I watch the café owner and see the way she communicates with her staff, asking them patiently to try a better way of doing things. I learn from the guys who run the carpark I park in each day and how they have the most unbelievable systems and procedures and nothing ever seems to fall through the cracks. I learn from my daughter who seems to have mastered creativity and meditation all at once while playing with her toys in silence and concentration.
Some of my greatest business lessons have come from male mentors and peers and I am grateful for this. This afternoon I’ll meet with a group of guys (and one woman) who I see each month and I get so much from being in their presence and absorbing their knowledge.
What do you think? Do you think it’s possible for us to learn from people who’ve taken a different path or are fundamentally built differently to us?