Simple Question – Profound Shift
Don’t feel bad if you haven’t mastered the shift from serving self to serving others. It’s a journey. I don’t know about you, but self-serving attitudes come naturally to me.
Servant-leadership is aspiration more than destination.
The journey toward servant-leadership is the path to profound impact and rich leadership.
My conversation with David Finkel, co-author of, “Scale,” reminded me that simple questions produce profound shifts in thinking.
Stop asking, “What do I need?”
Start asking, “What does my business need?”
David Finkel in his own words (1:27):
Growth, impact, and meaning find their fullest expression in thinking about what others need, what your business needs.
The thing that holds you back is focusing on your needs and wants. I’m not suggesting you become a martyr. Take care of you so you can take care of others.
You can preach service till you’re blue in the face, but humility changes everything.
Arrogance serves self. Humility serves others.
The more you contribute to something greater than yourself the greater you become.
Humility is discovered more than developed. David Finkel’s discovery of humility includes:
- Maturing. Growing into his thirties helped.
- Seeing frailty.
- Realization that others are pivotal to success.
- Passion to create something enduring that is bigger than himself.
David Finkel in his own words (2:07):
You must get out of yourself in order to create something bigger than yourself.
Humility blossoms outward. Arrogance collapses inward.
Humility looks like:
Humility is asking what’s best for others.
How has humility grown in you?
How has humility impacted your leadership?
Buy, “Scale” by David Finkel and Jeff Hoffman. It expanded my thinking on growing a business.
If your lost in yourself, you will never understand others. “Wake up and smell the Roses” Life is not all about us, although many people seem to think so. We should give till we can’t give no more, at that point in time we meet our maker to fulfill our journey in his eyes.
Thanks Tim. Trouble is, I have a magnetic personality! 🙂
Kindness is the gift anyone can give and it begins with humility. Leadership is more readily accepted when lathered with self-giving and offered with gratitude for the opportunity to serve. The greatest feeling one can have is seeing others smile when your input helps create success and accomplishment. Arrogance and ego need to be left on the pillow when one ventures out in the morning. That will always ensure your day will start out right.
Thanks Alfonso. What we often miss is the thing behind kindness. We complain that people aren’t kind but, perhaps, we should think more about humility. I think that gets to the root.
We often get self centered, and forget that the customer – the end customer, or the business that we serve is the reason for our jobs.
Like your statement. Sometimes even the best of leaders forget that it’s employees who are the first customers we must satisfy.”Happy employee’s make Happy customers”!!!
unless they are so happy they forget to work 🙂
Thanks Bill. Perhaps humility helps us with forgetfulness!!
“Humility is asking what’s best for others.” Needed that this morning. Got some disappointing news last night. Throws a wrench into plans for a weekend fundraiser event. My initial response was based on how this inconveniences me and how it might affect the event, but the situation warrants a change. Humility recognizes that what’s best for others at this moment is NOT being involved this weekend. So we’ll adjust on our end. Thanks for the reminder.
Thanks Pete. My wife and I often joke that serving in never convenient. 🙂 It’s worth it but it means we have to get off the warm couch. 🙂
Humility helps you connect to the needs of others more effectively. I find when you are humble you are more in tune in identifying the requirements of your team and business. It also gives you a tremendous freedom and clarity of thought.
Thanks Michael. Love the idea that humility is behind connecting. The opposite is true. Arrogance motivates isolation. We feel “better than” others, above.
This is a very good topic for our millennium generation!
Thanks Astrid. I wish I was a millenial. 🙂
Good morning Dan;
I very much like and agree with the statement, “Growth, meaning, and impact,find their fullest expression in thinking about what others needs, & the needs of the Organization”.
Luckily for me, my father taught me early in life the importance of positive relationships with others built on a foundation of Integrity, yours & theirs. An important aspect of putting others first is making a conscience effort to understand and put their needs firsts. There’s a myriad of reasons to promote this philosophy but I can think of none better than this. “Attitudes are contagious, positive attitudes and actions tend to be mirrored and repeated by others”. PLAY IT FORWARD. Here’s the undeniable benefit (I) receive from having a reputation of putting others first. I expedite daily routine’s and frequent ‘surprises & emergencies’ swiftly and with ease with good reason,”I can rely on others to drop everything and come to my aid, due to the fact they know I’d do the same”. It’s what sets great organizations & teams apart from everybody else.
Gota go Dan. Enjoy your day my friend & (Keep on Keepin on)!
Thanks SGT. “Be known for putting others first.” Clear and powerful! Thanks for sharing your insights and your personal story. Much appreciated.
In my life there’s no better barometer than my smile. If I’ve been unproductive, felt un-creative, if I haven’t taken care of myself, or if I have no room for others, it’s a given that I haven’t been smiling. When I smile and say ‘hi’ — I don’t have to do anything more — something amazing happens. Some people avert my gaze, but most people smile back and say ‘hi’ back. If I give a smile to the same person on Monday and Friday, that person is so much more likely to smile back and, over time, the smile becomes more and more genuine.
Several researchers including Eshan Hoque at MIT have published really interesting findings on genuine vs. forced emotions, and the short answer seems to be that we know, even if we couldn’t necessarily articulate it, when a smile is fake or real. We can spot the signals of honesty and genuine humility, but I think on some level, at least to the extent of casual interactions, we don’t care too much — any smile makes things better. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned when smilers are faking it. But my own experience is that smiling, even if faked, changes my attitude and slowly changes others’ too. If I force a smile on Monday, it’s a little bit easier to fake it on Tuesday, and by Friday, it’s likely genuine.
I spend about 20 hours a week in a competitive environment with lots of people playing an actual zero-sum game. Suffice to say humility is lacking — but humility isn’t zero-sum, when I’m more humble, others respond in kind. When I’ve been dressed-down by bosses, if I can resist the urge to defend myself and smile instead, or better yet, if I can smile when I feel the tension leading up to the dressing-down, the whole tone of the conversation changes — even though the smile is probably kind of forced.
But I know a lot of this is cultural and where I live, southern hospitality is still alive and well. It’s pretty easy to find a smiler in all but the most desperate situations and, maybe instead of confusing the genuineness question, this just makes people more adept at telling the difference, This has become extremely long, but just one more thought. A fried moved to Texas from Russian in the early nineties to attend graduate school. He told me that the most striking thing he noticed was that everyone smiled at him and it made him very uncomfortable. It was disorienting and he didn’t know how to respond — so he didn’t. He averted his gaze and trudged along. Now he smiles at passersby.
Humility is a learned skill and ‘fake it till you make it’ means you’re learning.
Thanks Buddy. I’m so glad you joined in. The “fake it till you make it” is something I mulled over and didn’t add to today’s post. I’m glad you joined in. Thinking of humility as a skill opens our thinking and the opportunities to development.
Awesomely succinct and highly pertinent, per usual! Must reblog to my audience!
Thanks Walter. A good word is a source of encouragement.
Thanks for sharing your insight and wisdom. Unfortunately for employees, their managers are unlikely to gain the requisite insight and if they do they are unlikely to develop the wisdom necessary to change their own behaviors. It is so much easier to hire managers who don’t need such an awakening.
Thanks Bob. It’s all about the team!
Glad to say Servant Leadership (and Shephard Leadership) is alive and well in Education. Especially in Catholic Education.
Way to go, kostiukg.
Dan, in my estimation, this post is the most meaningful you’ve penned. The character virtue of humility is about performance process and outcome to be sure, yet it’s also about “wellness”…everyone’s wellness.
I believe without humility…there can be not humanity. Humility does not mean we think less of ourselves: It means we think of ourselves less. At the same time, we can’t brag we are humble…and be humble. Very nice work. Congrats Dan.
Thanks Books. That means a lot coming from you.
I love a well turned phrase — “without humility … there can be no humanity” … powerful.
Leaders can (and do) achieve amazing results in two very different ways:
Lead with arrogance and intimidation.
Lead with humility and inspiration.
Arrogance is all about “Me.” Humility is all about “Us”
I don’t see humility as always putting others first– but as always including others, including self. The term enlightened self-interest speaks to that.
Thanks for another great post full of insights.
Thanks Alan. Your insights are helpful. I find your connection between humility and inclusion useful.
It’s something that I’m still working on. Great write!
Like this brilliant post… driving me to new interrogations: what are the ingredients of the humility? What humility is made with/by ? What are the conditions for humility ?
Indeed, what to teach, tell, share to build new generations of leaders ?
Ancestor Dr. Albert Schweitzer once wrote my grandfather that “humility is the act of kindness before the one in need must ask, or beg…”
David Finkel makes a great point about shifting focus from what you need to what the company needs. This is essential to progress, both for the organization and for the individual as a leader; ego needs to be removed from business. We all meet certain personal needs in business…earnings, accomplishment, pride…but to serve others, to serve the organization and to bring humility are evolved states of functioning. We must remain mindful through decision making to check that the needs met are not only self serving–and we can’t be productive if humility is mistaken for weakness or poor management skills.
Visit someone who is sick, and humility will stare you in the face.
I love every.single.thing that you post.
Just thought I would tell you and say thank you. ♥