What We Can Learn From Others
The scientific community is deserving of our praise. It has provided us with innumerable labor-saving devices. It has conquered many diseases and saved countless lives. The scientific community has made life significantly safer and easier for humanity.
But the scientific community’s stunning success is attributable to a very wise practice: The scientific community gives heed to the work, research, and achievements of previous generations. Because of the veneration scientists have for their predecessors they are able to benefit from the accumulated knowledge of scientists in decades past and stand on their shoulders to rise to new heights.
What a contrast to other disciplines. For instance, in matters of morality, wisdom, and life experience, each generation tends to scrap the lessons learned by those who have gone before. Each generation tends to assume it is morally superior, smarter, and has a better idea than all its predecessors. This foolhardy assumption has wreaked immeasurable misery upon humanity and forced every new generation to learn the hard lessons of life all over again.
Leadership and management constitute another discipline that routinely neglects lessons from the past and demoralizes subordinates in an organization. Even in the Army this is true. Too many times new leaders arrive and, instead of building upon their predecessor’s work and achievements, they scrap them and may even berate the previous leadership. He or she then imposes change on the organization – seemingly for change’s sake.
But why? Because we are taught that all change is good? Because new leaders feel the need to “make their mark” and distinguish themselves – thus putting their own needs before the organization’s?
Maybe we need to revive the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Maybe we should resist the impulse to “change everything” and stop treating the “tried and true” methodologies with contempt. Maybe we should heed the advice of others, especially from those who’ve gone before us.
If there is one undeniable mark of maturity in any adult it is this. It’s the ability to recognize good outside of ourselves. It’s being able to recognize the abilities and contributions that peers, predecessors, and subordinates can make. We cannot allow conceit – or feelings of inadequacy and inferiority – to tyrannize us. Otherwise they’ll turn our reasoning powers to mush and destroy our ability to lead. “Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail,” The Scripture says, “(but) take good counsel and watch them succeed” (Proverbs 15:22, The Message).
PRAYER: Dear Father in heaven, I do not want to be my own worst enemy. Please help me to understand myself, to be aware of my own limitations as well as to appreciate my own strengths. Help me to appreciate the contributions of others and to use them for the benefit of all. Amen.