It’s fascinating to me how much we learn when we’re willing to learn and to listen.
I recently had a group of people come visit me at my farm. These people were intelligent captains of industry and business leaders in Oklahoma City. They’ve never been on a farm in their life, but they eat whole organic, natural foods. They weren’t really sure organic truly meant, but they wanted to learn.
For three hours they drilled me for answers about food and farming. The amazing part for me was that I had an answer for every one of their questions. I didn’t realize the amount of information I knew. But, that’s only because I strive for knowledge. I talk with experienced farmers, I read books, and I’m around people who have different opinions than me. I may not agree with their opinion, but I engage them and gather information.
It fascinated me to realize how much I know about food and how to raise it. Yet, I didn’t set out to do that. I started with the intention that I wanted to raise a few animals and honor God with my food choices. The next thing I know, I’m standing in front of a group of 30 people drilling me for three hours and I know all the answers. I never meant to become an expert, but I’m open to learning.
I read a freeing statement the other day in one of Andy Stanley’s books: “A true leader understands that the older they get, the more vulnerable they are and the less they know.” I’ve always operated from the premise that I don’t like telling you “I don’t know.” It’s uncomfortable for me to say and it still is, but I’ve started to understand that it’s okay for me not to know.
It was freeing for me to understand that the more you learn, the more you learn that you have more to learn. And, the more you learn the more open you are to defending your ground. If I’m wrong, then it means I just learned something. I don’t have any pride in being wrong. But the vulnerability is what allows me the ability to stand up in front of people and give them information.
I always talk about what’s referred to as Positional Authority and Relational Authority. Positional authority is someone who holds a higher position than you, like a manager or a superior at work. Relational Authority is someone who you respect because they possess more knowledge or experience than you in a particular area. I love the way Andy Stanley describes this. He said in our life we wear two badges. One badge is Positional Authority the other badge is Moral Authority – it’s that relational piece. The more you learn, the more you understand how much you don’t know. It doesn’t have anything to do with age; it has to do with wisdom. It was a great example of “the more I know the more I know I don’t know.”
My experience on the farm with this group of people launched me into an epiphany about other areas of my life I could improve upon. What else can I learn? Where else am I deficient and how can I correct those deficiencies?
I encourage you to look deep inside you and discover what you might be an expert in and uncover areas you might need additional training or experience in.