The Paradox of Humility and Leadership

It’s really easy to feel like we have a novel idea if we are disconnected from people who share similar ideas as we do.

For example, you have this great idea for a business and you finally decide you are going to take the first steps and pursue that endeavor. After you start your research you quickly discover that not only has someone else come up with that idea (or something similar) but you realize they are way better at it than you. It’s usually at this point where people start talking themselves out of their dreams or continue to search and wait for a “niche” or “untapped market.”

I know this experience is deflating. But it is so necessary !  It resets things accordingly and we get a very healthy dose of humility. This is an internal rub, one that if not managed correctly will result in us subtly trying to invalidate those that we see as competition. It’s insecurity. It’s petty. And if we allow it, it will be the death of our dream.

Robin Sharma always says that genius is nothing but practice over time until mastery is achieved.  He’s right. I used to believe I had no musical talent, until I began playing the guitar at age 42. A year later I realized I can learn this just like everyone else.

That is vital for us to remember. We need to celebrate those who are trying to do the same work as we are within our same space. They should be seen as colleagues and not competition. The latter presupposes scarcity, as if there is only so much to go around. If we don’t love our work enough to do it for free then we are not doing it for the right reasons.

This is where philosophy really matters. The tribal mentality of the world says that we have to outdo the competition if we would be great.  The biblical paradigm says we must serve them if we would be great (Mk 10-42-44).

One kingdom says to go up you have to claw your way to the top. The other says to go up you must first go down.

It’s paradoxical. But it is so true.

  • Give if you want to receive.
  • Serve if you want to lead.
  • Humble yourself and you will be lifted up.
  • Give your life away and you’ll preserve it.

If we gain these truths, there really is no limit to what we can attain. If we miss them, we have already peaked. In one sense, heaven or hell have already started depending on our disposition.  It’s the fundamental principle of the universe.

Going back to that moment when you realize your great idea only brought you to the back of another very long line.  Can I encourage you to stay put and introduce yourself to a few folks. You’ll likely meet some friends who can share this journey with you. You’ll likely discover as I have, that many of those people will walk away soon too leaving you with half the crowd and twice the opportunity.

All because your heart was in the right place to receive humility.  Leaders are first great learners (disciples). I think Jesus had this figured out.  Would that we were all so inclined.