Sometimes I come across people who think that they know everything already or they are convinced that something is a certain way, the so called "the earth is flat"-syndrome. Sometimes I become aware that I myself have these predetermined mindsets about things.
There is a story about a man who visited an old Chinese woman. The woman was widely known for her wisdom, happiness and insights into leading a fulfilling life.
The man travelled afar to visit her and they chatted briefly about different things such as the reason the man's visit. He explained with great intensity that he wanted to improve his life and better his fortunes.
She then offered him tea which he said yes to. She started pouring the tea and then she just kept on pouring. As the level of the tea came closer to the edge of the cup the man started to wonder when she was going to stop pouring. But she kept on going right until the tea started spilling out of the cup. When the was overflowing at a steady flow while the old woman just kept on pouring, the man exclaimed "What are you doing?" as he somewhat annoyed jumped backwards to avoid getting soaked by the tea.
The old woman than said:
"You come here and say you want to learn new things, but your cup is already full. You first need to empty your cup otherwise their will be no room for new knowledge."
This is part of the problem with knowing for certain. Also when you know something for certain it very easily happens that you start to acknowledge that piece of knowledge as being the right way, answer or perspective. Like when it was widely believed that the earth was flat, that was surely the "right" way of viewing things.
The real potential for mishaps arises when that sense of being right very easily also slips into the attitude that if this is right, then the other way is wrong, or even worse - if I am right that must mean the other person is wrong.
Right and wrong attitudes with their accompanying discussions, or rather debates, are among the most devastating things to a successful leadership, to highly effective teams and on a personal level it can dry up an intimate relationship faster that than the mightiest Saharan sandstorm.
So my advice to you? Embrace the concept of not knowing, of believing instead of being totally and utterly certain. Be open to that there might be new knowledge that might make you change your mind, be open and curious about learning. Allow yourself to be strong and faithful in your beliefs - faith is one of major traits of the great leader - but also be ready to question the so called truths.
If we are not growing and learning, we are slowly dying, there is no status quo, as one of my teachers Anthony Robbins said.
And off course, tomorrow we might both realize that every word in this text is hopelessly outdated :-)