"As long as the reason of man continues fallible, and he is at liberty to exercise it, different opinions will be formed."
--- James Madison
For the past year we all heard one another's thoughts and opinions on the US Presidential race. Everyone had their own reasons of who should win and why, and many believed they were the experts to be heard. It is like that in business too. Whether it is your local government officials, industry peers, customers and employees, everyone has a thought on how you should run the affairs of the business.
The smart business leaders know that it is good to solicit the opinions of others, especially from those we respect, and then filter that information through our own opinion lens. Some opinions are sharp and brutal and need to be chewed upon for a while before acting on any of it. Others are useful and used to take action right away. And then others can be harmful and discarded immediately. But all should be heard and viewed with respect.
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."
--- Steve Jobs
It's okay to hear others out, but you don't have to necessarily listen to everyone. There is a big difference. When we hear, we at least give our attention to the speaker and sometimes that is enough. When we listen though, we internalize the information and formulate it into either useable or unusable. It takes practice, but learning to filter the good and useful opinions from the bad is the mark of a successful leader.
"Opinions are made to be changed - or how is truth to be got at?"
--- Lord Byron
As with others, your opinion matters too. If you share your opinion at an industry function, it is typically politely considered as possibly helpful information. If you share it as a boss to your employees, it is often translated as a new rule to follow. However, you have a right, and should exercise it, to change your opinion at any time. In fact, it is thought that the person who changes his opinion after careful consideration is more intelligent than the man who dogmatically sticks to his first opinion even after receiving new information that should change it.
"I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent the implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, make me less of an American."
--- Pete Seeger
Keeping your opinions to yourself is not always the wisest stance. In many audiences, whether during a lecture, at a company picnic, or when applying for a permit, your opinion may carry enough weight to create change. Or, your opinion may shed light in a dark place bringing hope or inspiration to others where it is needed. Carefully consider your opinions before broadcasting them, but don't withhold them. Our industry needs more men and women willing to share new insights that may bring positive change creating future prosperity for years to come.
"Change your opinions, keep to your principles; change your leaves, keep intact your roots."
--- Victor Hugo