Leadership takes Humility
Last week we looked at the importance of grit (Morsel 5) and how to build it: if you are expressing more gratitude, then you are building grit!!
This week, we are going to discuss the other key element of Leadership: Humility. You see, leadership is actually pretty simple; it just takes grit and humility. “What?” you ask. “How can that be? But if it is just made up of two things, then that sounds easy?”
Yes, I know, we can be pretty skeptical of simple, but it is because we are confusing “simple” with “easy”! They are not synonyms!
Let me take a moment to differentiate between the two…Weight loss is a pretty simple concept made up of primarily two things- 1) eat less, 2) move more. I don’t know about you, but when my alarm goes off at 5:00AM, it is far from easy to crawl out of bed and head to the gym. That’s simple but is definitely not easy! Keep that in mind as we continue our discussion on leadership.
Now let’s talk about humility. I have been contemplating humility a lot lately and stumbled on this definition: “humility is a clear perspective and respect of one’s position in context” (Thanks, wikipedia! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humility).
Another way to say that might be that humility is the power and strength 1) to consider some one else’s idea or position AND to consider that you might actually be wrong and 2) take a clear look at your role and rise to the occasion.
True leaders, or leaders with humility understand that there is a start and stopping place to how much they know and can do and that in fact, they NEED others around them to help. Humility then, is not a weakness, but a strength. It is actually power under restraint. Read that again…POWER UNDER RESTRAINT. When I think about power under restraint, people like Rosa Parks, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. all exhibited true humility. They understood what was required of them in the moment (whether that was refusing to give up a seat on the bus, committing to deal with injustice through non-violent demonstrations, or deliver a speech that would be heard literally around the world.) But at some point, even they needed others. Without other civil rights supporters, Rosa Park’s action would have been in vain and a speech isn’t a speech if no one is listening.
I also can’t help but notice that they did NOT have a preoccupation with their individual greatness. In fact, all three of these leaders were more concerned about the welfare of others than their individual greatness. I wonder if that is what trips us up so much … our cultural is obsessed with individual greatness. Isn’t that what motivates stars on reality shows? Aren’t they looking for fame and recognition or some sort of individual greatness?
How much greater could we all be if we had a clear perspective of our situation and what was needed from us in that moment? Maybe the most powerful thing we can do in a given moment is be quiet … recognize that maybe, just maybe, by letting some one else contribute, we are exhibiting humility and looking to the greater good – not just our individual greatness.
Maybe you have yet to recognize your leadership potential. Sure, maybe your title doesn’t say leader, but think about the effect you have on your tribe (the people in your inner circle at work and/or home).
Beginning TODAY…Show great power with restraint. Recognize when it is you need others. Really listen to the contributions of others (I mean really listen – not just thinking about what you are going to say next!). Be aware of your own leadership potential and when you have something to contribute…do it with humility!