Today I want to tell you a story. It’s a very recent story. It happened just yesterday.

In the past on this newsletter, I’ve written about the ladder of inference. What happens as we climb that ladder?

-We make up a story.
-Then we convince ourselves that the story is true.
-Finally, we completely forget that we made up the story in the first place.

The lesson of the story becomes part of our reality.

This is about a similar but different lesson, a lesson, like many others, we need to relearn during our careers and our lives.

I learned this lesson from my older son, Jared.

In the Jewish religion, youngsters mark their entry into adulthood with their bar or bat mitzvahs at age 13. It’s usually a big deal. This week marked the 60th anniversary of my bar mitzvah and the 20th anniversary of my son’s bar mitzvah. It is a lovely coincidence that we share the same Torah portion, or segment of the Old Testament, for our respective bar mitzvahs. It is the last portion in the book of Genesis, which details the death of Joseph. Ironically, my father‘s name was Joseph and my son Jared is named after him.

At my request, Jared traveled down from New Jersey for this meaningful occasion. After we shared our joint blessing at the pulpit, I was looking forward to the rabbi talking about us and blessing us, as he usually does when congregants are celebrating special life milestones. I know the rabbi very well. He has been at our congregation for 13 years and I was on the search committee that hired him. We share a special friendship.

I was surprised when the new rabbi, who has been with us for six months, stepped up to the pulpit, because she does not know me very well. Yesterday there was a bat mitzvah taking place at the synagogue and in that context, the new rabbi asked my son and me a very interesting question. What advice, at this stage of our lives, would we have for our 13-year -old selves. I think she was hoping the bat mitzvah girl was listening. My son spoke about being in the moment and mindfulness, while I spoke about the importance of family throughout our lives.

After we left the pulpit and sat back down with my wife, my son said, “Wow. I’m so impressed with the senior rabbi. He’s really giving the new rabbi an opportunity to grow and to practice her skills. Even though he knows you so well, dad, he gave her the chance to preside over this occasion. He’s really mentoring her in a terrific way.”

Immediately, my perspective shifted. Instead of thinking about things from my own viewpoint, I thought about things from the rabbi’s perspective. Actually, from both rabbis’ perspectives. I stopped thinking about my own surprise and started thinking about things from my son’s point of view.

My personal thoughts faded as I digested and appreciated my son’s perspective. Jared helped me relearn a very valuable lesson.

To grow as both people and leaders, we must be open to fresh perspectives, and allow ourselves to be influenced by those perspectives. I encourage you to keep this lesson that I relearned in mind as you move forward on your leadership journey.