“Fools think their own way is right but the wise listen to others.”
– Proverbs 12:15 NLT

I love how the best lessons and reminders are simple. You just get ’em.

They become a part of you almost instantly, and they stick with you forever.

This lesson wasn’t a slap in the face…more of a gentle nudge. A reminder that asking for help and reaching out to others isn’t a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of strength and wisdom.

Do you struggle with asking for help? I do sometimes.

Is it hard for you to reach out to others? To admit that someone else has a better idea or approach than you? It happens. We’re human.

Here are a few things I do to keep on the path towards wisdom. Maybe they can help you too.

1) Surround Myself With Great People
I’m constantly working to put myself in the middle of the smartest people in the room. I also hire people with different backgrounds and experiences than me, and I learn from the many different leaders I help coach and develop. This virtually guarantees I’ll get smarter and have plenty of opportunities for listening.

2) Force It
It’s easy to do whatever you want when you’re a leader – especially if you don’t have anyone to call you out on your actions and decisions.

We hold regular AMEND leadership team meetings and board meetings. I also participate in local CEO development programs like the Cincinnati Chamber’s CEO Roundtable program. These meetings force me to pull my thoughts together, share them, and then be vulnerable and open to feedback. I still don’t always listen, but I always walk away smarter.

3) Make It Fun!
Getting people to engage can be a challenge. Making it fun can help you get more effective feedback. Challenge your employees to first find all the flaws with your idea, then challenge them to create solutions. Best solution wins.

Think about the different types of people you know – the know-it-alls, the shy ones, the stuffy ones, the crazy ones… Work to get feedback from each type of person in a week or less.

Working on solving a tough problem? Host a problem party. Share the problem, share the solutions you’ve discovered so far, and then turn everyone loose. Give them 48 hours to create solutions, then have them present the solutions to you in a Shark-Tank-like setting.

No matter if you listen to the king of kings or the king of the electric strings, the lesson remains:

“Knowledge speaks but wisdom listens.”
– Jimi Hendrix