As a kid I used to think it would be great if I could know exactly what people were thinking. As I have gotten older I have realized how scary a proposition that would be.

Think about some of the thoughts you have had about your closest friends, your spouse, or your boss. Would they really be better off if they knew what you were thinking?

I don’t think so.

See most of us think in a way that PROTECTS us. That means we have a tendency to reject new ideas, fight change, challenge new ways of thinking, and pull back to what is most familiar to us. This is why so many people make great New Year’s resolutions only to have them fall apart before 3 months are out.

So most thoughts people have to new ideas, thoughts, or challenges are not the most positive. They tend to sit in their throat like a dust on a windblown dirt road. It takes them a while to swallow over and over until the taste settles and the idea or thought can be taken on its own merit.

Your job as a leader is to create that space and environment that allows people to think, chew on, and then swallow new ideas so they can embrace them.

But in order to create that environment, you need to ask, “do I create that environment for myself or do I run from new ideas, thoughts and challenges?”

The hardest thing for a leader to do is to educate her team on how to THINK. This means you have to expose them to your emotions and thought patterns so they understand what bewilders you, what irritates you, and when you are wrong. You need to become vulnerable to them before they will become vulnerable to you, your ideas, and your challenges.

So when is the last time you challenged yourself outside of your own comfort boundaries?