Tag Archives: learning



By Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

As Christmas approaches, I am reminded of the intrigue and wonder I experienced as a child as to what Santa was going to leave me under the Christmas tree.  I was curious as to what my presents (if any) would be.  As I grew older, I became more and more curious as to Santa’s existence.

One year, after a discovery expedition in Mom and Dads’ closet a few weeks before Christmas, I found two football uniforms complete with pads and helmets.  They were the perfect size for my brother and me.  Holy cow!  What a discovery!  But had my curiosity gotten the better of me?  If Santa was real, why was he hiding these ideal Christmas gifts in my parents’ closet?  My curiosity helped me discover one of the coolest Christmas presents ever, but it also caused me to have doubts about Santa’s existence!  I wasn’t sure if curiosity was a good thing or not!


Curiosity stirred feelings inside me that were exciting and tingling.  The expedition in the closet was exciting; it was a clandestine and dangerous adventure.  The surprise of the football gear was awesome!  All in all, curiosity is an incredible experience, an incredible adventure, an incredible feeling as a child.  Discovering the status of Santa’s existence was disappointing.  It created certainty in the world that I did not want to embrace.  That conclusion was the result of deductive reasoning.  Curiosity was the cool part.

Adults have a tendency to suppress curiosity because of their need for certainty.  Certainty provides comfort and security for adults but results in a loss of spontaneity, energy, surprise and new experiences.  Certainty can equal boredom!

Effective leaders are curious.  Curiosity generates feelings that are intriguing!  Curiosity stimulates your brain.  Curiosity leads to learning.  Learning and curiosity go hand-in-hand.  The greatest leaders are insatiable learners.  The greatest leaders are curious.

Leaders have figured out what works and what doesn’t work.  This is definitely an important aspect of leadership.  Repeated implementation of proven ideas and strategies makes sense.  This process leads to the success of organizational members and the organization itself.  Success is good and desired, but what about fulfillment?  Implementing the tried and true does lead to success and should not be sacrificed–however, routinely searching for new and different ideas can lead to greater fulfillment.  Greater fulfillment can also lead to greater success.  Research has found that the strongest predictors of how much enjoyment a person experiences in a given day is determined by whether he or she learned something new the day before.

Curiosity, fulfillment and learning are key components of effective leadership.  The greatest leaders are insatiable learners.  The greatest leaders are fulfilled and help others achieve fulfillment.  The greatest leaders are curious.


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Effective Leadership is Music to My Ears

Effective Leadership is Music to My Ears

by Bill Auxier, Ph.D.

One of my best friends, someone I’ve known my entire life, is a prominent dentist in Ohio.  As kids we played together, went to school together, played on the same sports teams together; we had many adventures together.  We went to different colleges and chose different career paths.  He earned his DDS and I earned my PhD.  We both raised two children, both having one boy and one girl.  Now we’re both empty nesters and continue to enjoy each other’s friendship.

While in the fourth grade, both of us took piano lessons from Mrs. Watson, the music teacher at our school.  Her house was right across the street from the school which is where she gave piano lessons in her living room.  Our lessons just happened to be on the same day, one right after the other.  When Mrs. Watson realized what great friends we were, she came up with the brilliant idea that we should take our lessons together at the same time.  We were all in!

During one of those lessons, my buddy missed a note while playing.  Mrs. Watson was always eager to provide feedback and instruction, so took this opportunity to ask my lesson-mate the name of the missed note.  He didn’t answer, but instead simply sat on the piano bench in silence.  Finding the silence uncomfortable, I gave him a quick glance.  I immediately recognized the look:  a combination of frustration and anger, covered by a thick layer of stubbornness.  Mrs. Watson was not deterred, reminding my friend that she knew he was playing the sousaphone in the school band whose music was written in bass clef (the same as the now infamous missed note).  We sat there in silence in Mrs. Watson’s living room, the only sound being the ticking of some distant clock, the rest of the lesson.  Mrs. Watson could be stubborn too.  Two stubborn individuals in a stand-off, and one uncomfortable fourth grader observing this historical stand-off, afraid to move or breathe. Not long after that, neither of us were taking piano lessons.  Both of us continued to play musical instruments in the school band, but Mrs. Watson had black-balled us from following in the piano playing footsteps of Ferrante and Teicher!


I always chuckle when I reminisce about that fatalistic piano lesson in Mrs. Watson’s living room, and of course, that makes me think about leadership.

Effective leaders are great listeners and learners, possess excellent language and motor skills and have good memories.  Researchers at Northwestern University’s Auditory Neuroscience Lab have conducted numerous studies that have examined the relationship between early music education and language, aptitude, hearing ability, learning ability, listening skills, motor skills and memory.

One study looked at adults between the ages of 55 and 76 who took music lessons for a minimum of four years as children.  What they found was that regardless as the whether they continued with music or not, there was a clear relationship between those music lessons and language aptitude, hearing, learning ability and memory.  Study participants with 4 to 14 years of music training during their youth scored even higher on those same skills.  Other studies indicate that learning a practicing music, even at advanced years, may help improve listening skills, memory skills and motor skills.

Regardless of what your music education experience may or may not have been as a youth, pick up a musical instrument and start playing or start singing along!  Music will enhance skills that enhance your leadership effectiveness, and that will be music not only to your ears, but to everyone’s ears around you!  Thank you Mrs. Watson!

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