You probably recall as a child sitting at the feet of your teacher. All the children in class would sit cross-legged on the floor while the teacher gave his or her lesson. Or perhaps you sat at the feet of your sports coach, your parents or another adult leader in your life.
In our childlike minds, the feet we sat at belonged to wise, old people who told us stories, gave us advice or shared some insight to help us learn something new. They were like gurus, full of wisdom and knowledge.
As children, the feet we sat at mattered. Some teachers were able to help us learn more effectively than others. But most of the time, we had little choice in the feet we sat at.
Now we’re older and, hopefully, a little wiser. We still sit at someone’s feet. We’re just not necessarily aware it’s happening and sometimes, we choose to sit at at the wrong feet that may not suit our needs.
If you look to the sporting world, you can see the enormous value of sitting at the right feet. Great coaches ensure their teams – the people who sit at their feet – perform at their best. No matter what sport it is, the coaches who help their teams succeed on the national and world stage, often earning a significant amount of money and respect and sometimes money.
One of the world’s most successful and well-known managers is Alex Ferguson, who managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013. Man Utd dominated English football with Ferguson at the helm, winning 13 Premier League Titles, five FA Cups and four League Cups. Australia’s own Wayne Bennett is widely considered rugby league’s greatest coach of all time, winning a record seven premierships at two different clubs.
In every aspect of our lives, from sport to business to politics, we see phenomenal leaders imparting their knowledge and advice, and the people who sit at their feet achieve great success. Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela are examples of outstanding leaders who made a profound impact on their nations and, indeed, the world.
We also see amazing leaders closer to home, such as community and religious leaders, who may not be famous, yet make an immense difference to the people at their feet through their great humility, power and momentum.
All of us are looking for people to learn from, people to follow, people to sit at the feet of. These people will become a massive influence on who we become. In business and life, we have the power to choose whose feet we sit at. That’s why we must consciously and honestly ask ourselves whether the leaders, coaches, mentors and gurus we admire and look to for knowledge and advice an insight will truly help us grow.
What do you want to achieve? What do you want to learn? In what way do you want to grow? Whose feet do you sit at and will they truly help you on your journey?
Ensure the people you follow have the right knowledge, gifting, attitude and skill. Because it isn’t just the feet you sit at that matter, it’s the footprints they leave behind. What kind of mark do they make? Do they go in the direction you want to go? Make sure their footprints are worth following, but that’s for another blog.
You won’t always choose the best feet. The results won’t always be perfect. But, as leadership expert John Maxwell says in his book, Failing Forward, so long as you fail forward – in other words, so long as you learn from the experience both good and not so good – you’re on the right journey.
Be kind, be well, be true, be you.