The Memory Genius Leader seeks out every opportunity to equip everyone in the family, school, and organization with the same unity of thought that the leader possesses in his or her role as the philosopher. The leader is a model of lifelong learning; in addition, the leader encourages and equips everyone in the organization to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and skill. The role of the Memory Genius leader is as a learning leader and an educator.
The word education comes from a French root that means to lead out of ignorance. Memory Genius Leaders lead from a platform of knowledge-their personal and professional logos; and they lead the organization to knowledge-knowledge of the logos, knowledge of the vision, knowledge of the best business practices, and knowledge of the best ways to build relationships of trust and respect in homes and communities.
We cannot, must not operate in ignorance. As individuals, we need knowledge to grow in all six areas of human development: mental, physical, spiritual, social, financial, and emotional. As a society, we must acquire knowledge for human betterment. And as an organization, it is impossible to make our vision become a reality without the proper education of all people within that organization. During the early 1990s, a phrase that became popular in books and articles on leadership was “the Learning Organization.” The concept emphasized the importance of constant, continual learning. If individuals and organizations are not learning, they are dying. James Belasco and Jerre Stead wrote a fine leadership manual, titled Soaring with the Phoenix. They asserted:
Knowledge has always been the differentiators. Hannibal’s knowledge of the Alps enabled him to defeat a superior Roman force. American ingenuity enabled us to defeat a far superior German force in North Africa during World War II. Better-trained Israeli pilots defeated a much larger Arab force during the Six Day War. Superior knowledge inevitably wins.
Richard Teerlink, President and CEO of Harley Davidson, insists that “People are the only long-term competitive advantage and lifelong learning is the way to fully develop that advantage.” With access to new information and new business strategies advancing at micro-processed speed, those organizations that hope to survive in the new millennium must engage in an ongoing process that encourages the development of new ways to learn faster and work smarter than the competition. Champions of Change must improve their thinking before they will be able to improve their performance.
Why is education important?
Great Memory Genius leaders engage the hearts and minds of everyone with ennobling beliefs and enduring values. In addition, Memory Genius Leaders engage their Purpose Partners’ (students/employees/associates) hands with skills that equip them to perform at maximum efficiency.
I once heard a story about a man walking through a cemetery whose attention was captured by this epitaph: “Died when he was thirty; buried when he was sixty-five.” The passerby stopped, puzzled. Peering down at the tombstone, he found the explanation engraved at the bottom of the stone: “He stopped learning when he was thirty.”
There are a great many people that can be represented by those doleful words. Everyone dies when they quit learning, though they may not close their doors for several more years. If you were to ask the president of a failing company when the business died, an honest and perceptive leader might reply, “We died about twenty years ago, when we stopped reading, stopped learning, stopped listening to our customers and our Purpose Partners®, and when we stopped training. We died when we thought that we had arrived at the top of the heap and had nothing more to learn.”
If we’re not learning, we’re not living! The lifeblood of every individual and every organization is the passion and joy that is aroused by the wonder and discovery of learning. Memory Genius Leaders know this; they are insatiable models of lifelong learning and vigorous proponents of continuing education. They leave books and periodicals in the waiting areas of their companies, in break rooms, and on people’s desks. These learning leaders earnestly believe that one of the most important parts of their organization’s compensation package is education, and they make every effort to ensure that these “benefits” are unmatched by their competitors. The company is breathing and growing and taking in intellectual nourishment. The organization is so alive with the culture of lifelong learning that if you were to cut it with a knife, it would bleed knowledge!
Far too many of us have lost touch with the wonder and the adventure of learning. Young children are inexhaustible question-boxes. They are bright-eyed and curious, constantly asking, exploring, and learning. Why would we adults want to “grow” out of that? We seem to believe it is a sign of sophistication to appear incurious, as if we already know all the answers to everything. The loss of intellectual curiosity is a sign of regression, not of health. It is a sign of immaturity, because we have become so prideful that we want to impress everyone with what we know-or, worse yet, to appear as if we know when we actually do not-instead of learning to be quiet and honor others by listening to what they have to say.
I believe that pride may well represent the greatest barrier to learning.