Leadership and the Humbled Heart

Humility_in_leadership

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

True humility in leadership inspires others to greatness…

As I reflect on these words, I am reminded of those I know who lead with love and a humbled heart; those leaders who create spaces for others to learn and  grow; who embody the knowledge that true humility in leadership is essential to building communities of trust, enabling others to shine.

What they share in common is the knowledge that leadership is a privilege, not an entitlement.  Never boastful or proud, they view leadership as stewardship, instead of an opportunity for self-promotion.  Each seasoned in their respective careers, they have been humbled by past struggles as much as exalted for accomplishment, and in the wake of both, have found their strength, calling, and their commitment to those goals and causes larger than themselves.

They exude a quiet confidence, leading with a degree of grace and humor that comes only from time and the gift of life experience itself.  Past defenses melted away, they are able to lead on purpose, with purpose, and a sense of passion that inspires.  Their work is not about them, but in growing others and achieving common goals, anchored by the belief that we all achieve more when we work together.

They are leaders — in our homes, in our communities, in our businesses, and in the world.  Seasoned by time and humbled in heart, they inspire others to greatness, not by what they have achieved, but through the essence of who they are.

Deeply grateful for those leaders in my life who inspire me every day, I’m curious…who inspires you and why?  What is your definition of humility in leadership?  How have past opportunities and challenges humbled you and shaped your perspective?  

 

 

 

Humility

It is very early in the morning, still dark outside and quiet in the house…my favorite time of day.  Even on the weekends I set my alarm so that I can rise before everyone else…stealing moments of time to sit in absolute stillness, gather my thoughts and tune into my spirit.  It is a time when the events of the previous days, weeks or months, settle on my heart and give me pause for deep reflection.  It is also a time of humble prayer and quiet meditation.

Today, I continue to reflect on the word humility.  Webster’s defines it as the quality of being humble, respectful and modest.  In a broader sense, it is not only the quality of being modest about what we do know, but an honest acknowledgement of all that we don’t know and still have to learn.  It is submissive in nature.  It is the opposite of ego and it is rooted in love.  It is the great equalizer when we find ourselves pulled off-center in a state of false pride.

It is at these times – times when we momentarily lose our balance – that our outer strength gives way to a deeper vulnerability, and in this raw, exposed place, we feel naked and humbled beyond measure.  It is these moments that tempt us to run away, bury our hearts, or hide behind thick walls of defense; moments when prideful ego or ignorance rooted deeply in fear, risk luring us away from the growth and wisdom that true humility provides. But experience teaches us that humility is a powerful, grounding force, if we’ll allow its rightful place in our lives.  It is not haughty or boastful or proud. It centers and grounds us in our wisdom, while gently reminding us of all we still have to learn.  It dismantles our ego, while opening our hearts.  It builds bridges instead of walls.  It unifies rather than divides.

Sometimes humility is simply God’s way of reminding us to be still and to submit to the truth that we are but one star in a galaxy of many.  No less important than others, but no more important, either; that just as we are all leaders in our lives, we are all learners, too;  that perhaps the purpose of life is not to rest in certain knowledge of the answers, but to humbly and courageously seek the truth while embracing the larger mystery that is life.

I‘m curious…

How do you define humility?  What role does it play in your leadership?  What role does it play in your life?  Have you ever found yourself thrown off-balance?  What role has humility played in bringing you back to center?  How has humility helped you grow?  

Building Up or Breaking Down?

Yesterday I wrote a post that I subsequently took down.  The topic was managing fear through change, whether organizationally or personally.  The intent was to highlight the constancy of change and how our response to this inevitability can profoundly shape the future.  I noted how when we respond with fear or stubborn resistance to the status quo, we risk staying stuck in the past and often find ourselves woefully unprepared to manage change; when we become agile learners and leaders aligned to our core values, we are more fluidly able to act with centered measure.  The post also included an honest account of my own professional observations on the subject of fear, though the anecdotal story I chose to focus on did not cast a favorable light.

Sometimes we learn important lessons from our own or others’ challenges.  We watch as organizations struggle and/or individuals fail, and we take copious notes, hoping to learn a better way.  Sometimes the struggles and failures are our own. From my perspective, they are simply opportunities for growth, though such opportunities for growth are rarely pain- or consequence-free.  How we portray these struggles to others, then, requires a measured dose of balance and respect.  After all, there is power in the word, and our words, as I have often written, have the power to build up, break down, and influence others.

A heady dose of humility reminds me that the path to peace, learning, and bridge building begins with ourselves.  It begins with a deep and honest look at the state of our own hearts.  It begins with the willing acknowledgment that our perspective is only a singular dimension of the truth, though not necessarily the experience of others. Humility is also an important reminder that when we choose to view the experience of life through the singular lens of our ego, our thoughts and words risk turning into judgment, and judgment always alienates.

I’m curious…

How has the lens through which you experience life shaped your view of the truth? How does your focus change when viewed through the ego vs. the heart?  Do you learn best from observing what doesn’t work, or from observing what does?  How do you find balance between the two?  When the ego rises up and threatens to overtake your judgment, what role does humility play in bringing you back to center?