Success Starts Early - Humility
My dad is not big on watching professional sports, although he'll tolerate some time in front of the TV with me from time to time. When he does watch, however, I've noticed he really gets sour about the kind of players that celebrate by dancing, posing, or otherwise drawing attention to themselves. We used to go to business meetings with a friend and mentor who spent several years playing professional football, and he similarly commented that he never liked seeing someone celebrate a touchdown by acting like the other 10 guys on the field didn't help him get there. The superstar athlete who is willing to go about his work, giving others credit for contributions while not seeking their own celebrity recognition, is rare. But then again, how often do we see individuals in any field of endeavor avoid seeking the applause of others? Humility is not usually a natural response to success, but it is certainly an important ingredient.
If you run a search online for "humility", the bulk of you results will likely be religious in nature. Why do you think that is? Perhaps because it takes an almost superhuman level of effort to accomplish. The popular author and pastor, Rick Warren, gave us one of the best definitions of this concept when he wrote, "Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it's thinking of yourself less." That doesn't always seem easy, and at times it might not even seem as if it's helpful. How could it benefit me, for instance, if I accept the blame every time something goes wrong, but give others the credit whenever we're successful?
The answer can be found in the long-term evaluation of your goals. If you continue on a particular path, it will eventually lead you somewhere, so let's explore two different responses to a scenario. Let's assume a young worker named Blair is part of a group that has a successful outcome on a big project. The boss mentions the team's win at a meeting, and Blair is asked to tell everyone how it came about. Our main character could choose to emphasize personal contributions, or to point out how each of the other individuals really made the difference. How do you think the team would react to those two options? Will they (or others who weren't even part of the group) have a positive opinion of giving their best effort alongside Blair in the future? Do you think having more (or less) people wanting to contribute will ultimately impact our main character? So you see, by not trying to shine in the spotlight an individual can positively impact future work goals.
The same applies to every area of life. People want to be appreciated, and by deflecting praise to others you become the kind of person they want to be associated with. Be willing to give and serve, and you'll never be alone. Try to steal that spotlight all the time, however, and you'll soon find out how hard it is to do everything yourself.
Try writing a quick note to someone, thanking them for something positive they've done lately. Whether it's helping put on an event, being generous to a cause, or even just taking time to talk with someone who needed a friend, let that person know that their contribution was noticed and appreciated. You can bet it won't be the last time you see them step up to help!
Check out a book called The Serving Leader by Ken Jennings and John Stahl-Wert for a relatable story that highlights how to exhibit humility on the way to becoming a leader.
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