Humility has gotten a bad reputation. Humility apparently now means inward, meek, soft spoken, abdication, always smiling, always friendly, subservient and more. There are shy people, certainly, who are amazingly humble and highly effective leaders. But humility has NOTHING to do with one’s personality traits. Humility, in my view, is about truly trying to do right by others, making the kinds of decisions that serve a common good, while still fulfilling our own needs and wants.
Walt Disney. Howard Schultz. Rosa Parks. Herb Kelleher. Blake Mycoskie. Oprah Winfrey. David Stirling. Richard Branson. Anita Roddick. The list of Bold Dreamers that have added great value to our society is endless and yet, each is or was, very much their own person. Humility, it would seem, is more about being exceptionally passionate and extraordinarily dedicated to being of service, to adding value, then it is about being a Zen monk. No offense to any Zen monks that might be reading this but seriously, you can still be you and be humble. It’s ok to have passion, opinions, drive and determination. It’s ok to make things happen. It’s ok to be a strong leader. That does not necessarily mean you lack humility.
Bold dreams humbly achieved requires a delicate dance between self-interest, which is normal and human, and the desire to build something bigger then yourself, something that adds to our society. I have no doubt that Walt and Oprah launched their empires for reasons that included self interest and yet in spite of their self interest, they rose to a higher calling and alas- made a huge difference in the lives of many. In fact, they’re impact is likely to last for generations to come.
Dream big. Lead with authority and conviction. Live with passion. Grab some of the rewards along the way and while you’re at it, add value and make a difference in this life that you’ve been given. That will do just fine in qualifying you as a humble Servant Leader.
Food for thought-