Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Slice of Humble Pie

Yesterday, as I climbed up my back steps, I had a realization that made me swallow real hard - like a something difficult to get down. It was, as we knew growing up in Texas, a slice of "humble pie."

Photo by Joselito Tagarao via Flickr using a CC-BY license.

Eating a slice of humble pie means that you rightfully were humbled. It could be the team asked if they could rotate the ScrumMaster and you're the ScrumMaster. It could be your team building idea completely flopped. Maybe a friend told you that you were the wrong in some gripe you've been carrying around for weeks. Your stock picks have brought what saving you had to almost nothing. In some ways, it's acknowledging failure. Although you might have failed, you are not a failure. And as John Wooden said, You aren't a failure until you start to blame. Failure is good medicine for us, but we often don't want to take it. We avoid owning failure - it hurts - and turn to blame someone or something else. Humility allows us to cut out the cancer from the body of experience, separating the good from the bad. Keeping the good things we need to learn from what happened, while cutting out the stinkin' thinking. Sometimes we need to realize that we're not great at everything, a shadow attitude that makes it more difficult to really listen and value other people's opinions. Humility isn't thinking yourself nothing, it's not thinking more of yourself than you ought.

For me, it was realizing that some was better than me at what I do. Even though I had been doing it longer, and I had even helped them, they were now far past me. Rather than push the surgical knife away by saying that they were doing better because of luck and circumstances (more on that from Jim Collin's later), I had to acknowledge that this person was simply more driven and hard working than I was. And that was hard for me to accept. But owning this allowed me to pause and ask myself, "Why are not so passionate so as to be that driven and hard working? What is not clear about your vision and goals that it's not that motivational for you?" That was the golden take away from this experience - my personal mission statement wasn't clear enough, and certainly didn't have a clear strategy, to empower me.

Jim Collins wrote in Good to Great that Level 5 Leaders look in the mirror to assign blame. This core leadership character trait and value doesn't come easily and needs to be developed. We don't get promoted into some leadership platform and then begin working on getting these leadership traits. Unless we already have them, the sudden, new power (however small) will quickly begin to corrupt and blind us. Instead, we develop these traits which will then qualify us for, and pull us up and forward into, leadership opportunities.

Patrick Lencioni's Fart Story (yes, really)
Humilitas by John Dickson: How the Virtue of Humility Can Turn Your Strengths into True Greatness in all Areas of Life
Great Video Clip on humility from John Dickson and Patrick Lencioni from The Leadership Summit
Jim Collin's Good to Great Diagnositic Tool

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