The Things that Make You Remarkable Go Beyond Talent
Lack of self-awareness is a great comfort to arrogance. It’s taken me half a life-time to see that I’m not nearly as talented as I thought.
That’s not a pathetic plea for sympathy. It’s a freeing observation that allows me to worry less about my talent and more about contributing to others.
Albert Einstein wrote in a letter to Carl Seelig, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” He was almost 73 years old.
Talent opens doors, but talent alone won’t finish the race.
- Talent competes. Leaders release.
- Talent fixes. Love serves.
- Talent knows. Humility listens.
Two things that require no talent:
The belief that you are highly talented is an obstacle until it’s combined with love and character.
When have you ever heard someone say, “I have the talent of love.” It’s an insult to even think it.
Love is more about courage than talent. Is the world big enough for you to find the courage to seek another’s highest good?
Honesty isn’t a talent.
How are you practicing; honesty, openness, or respect? None of these leadership practices require any talent in the least.
Humility takes no talent. It’s a practice. You might begin developing it by honoring the talent of others.
Character requires repetition, not talent.
Talent is important, but the things that make you remarkable go beyond talent to things like love and character.
What are some things that make leaders remarkable, but don’t take talent?
**** This post was inspired by an email I received a few days ago. I can’t find it this morning. If you sent it, please let me know so I can let others know where the inspiration came from.
Dan When I was young in business and life I thought I was special and knew best. Then along the way I learned to be tolerant of others and their views. Then as you stated some humility showed up. Then I achieved more success by focusing on the team and the bigger goals. It takes time for most of us! Great post
Thanks Brad. You’ve given some powerful illustrations of the effect of humility on our approach to others. Very practical.
Thank you for using the word love in a leadership context. If you are in the right profession, you probably love what you do. if you honestly love yourself, the good and the not so good, it’s easier to care for your team and them to care about you. When that really becomes important is when times get tough. A team that cares about each other and has a leader that they know cares about them will survive setbacks better than those that don’t.
Thanks Mim. I think I’d rather be part of a team that cares about each other than not. I wonder what teams are actually doing to instigate and grow caring for each other? Perhaps we think it will just magically happen.
Great post, Dan! Character matters in life, in business, and even in politics. We desperately need servant — rather than self-serving — leaders. Your column should be required reading for all voters.
Thanks Paul. Sometimes I think we spend too much time focused on skill and talent and not enough on character.
This Post reminds me of something John Luther once said, “Good character is to be praised more than outstanding talent. Most talents are to some extent a gift from God. Good character, by contrast, is not given to us. We have to build it piece by piece by thought, choice, courage, and determination.”
Thanks for the reminder!
I think the first confirmation of wisdom is accepting what you are and what you’d never be. So you’re spot on there.
Thanks Thessauron. The “never be” is the hard part. Perhaps we’re brain washed with the idea that anyone can become anything.
Humbling to realize we can serve without any real skill at all. We are all like synapses in the brain passing forward energy really.
Thanks Sandra. Talent is a wonderful thing. But, it takes no talent to love people. 🙂 Your focus on positive energy is important in leadership.
Dan, Thank you for continuing to astound me and open up my thinking to new and improved thoughts. I believe we can only succeed when we focus on others to lift up the entire team/project/company.
Thanks Karen. I appreciate you. Your belief in the importance of focusing on others is essential to leadership. Best wishes
I have been leading folks for quite a few years now and Lord knows I don’t have a tremendous amount of talent. What I have learned, and truly believe, has helped me to be successful is that it is all about people and relationships. I have stolen quite a few words from you that I know teach with, Words like courage, humility and now love. What a staggering concept to get others to embrace, let alone a leader – you gotta love’em to lead’em. Thank you for the inspiration as I head off to teach leadership next week!
Thanks Ken. And thank you for leading. Your insights elevate all of us. “You gotta love’em to lead’em.” Here’s to putting the basics into practice.
Great Post Dan! I have encountered egos getting in the way many times in my career, (including my own from time to time). I do believe self awareness is the key element for growth.
I do have a question for you and others. How do you coach/mentor/encourage close minded individuals to become more self aware? Or is this one of those cases, “when the student is ready the teacher will come”.
Thanks Mike. Your connection between self-awareness and growth is so true. As long as we believe we can do things we can’t do, we don’t grow. 🙂
Your question is a tough one. You might try a 360 degree assessment. The person you mention should be involved in the process from the very beginning. The reason I make this suggestion is that others have to show us our blind spots. We don’t see them ourselves.
Good morning, Dan.
What a great post! Again. Compassion and Empathy and Sympathy, when called for not talent, but seem very necessary for Servant Leadership. I envy your enthusiasm and passion for providing me with a new awareness everyday. As always, I am extremely grateful.
Thanks Larry. Terms like compassion and empathy and sympathy are all necessary for relationships to grow and thrive. Leaders may feel pressure to rush to the tough side of relationships. We may need the tough, but the foundation for tough leadership is tenderness.
Lack of self awareness and arrogances is so connected. I have dealt with a number of supervisors that did things that blew my mind. I would confront them, “are you even aware of what you just said”. Often they would roll their eyes and grin and not even engage. The other common factor was the same type would not confront or engage. A leader that is not self aware is often not aware of what their employs are doing. Failure sooner or latter has always been the result. Thank for these morning wake up calls.
Thanks Walt. Your addition of the idea that when we don’t see ourselves we don’t see others, either, is a powerful warning to all of us. We might like to work on our ability to see others. But one way to see others better is to see ourselves better. Thanks for your insights.
In addition to love and humility, I would offer the value of having a daily practice for both gratitude and generosity. I write or say something to myself or someone else daily that is a sincere expression of gratitude (saying thanks in a retail context don’t count!). Now I’m working on starting the practice of generosity, but I’m having to first start with myself. I’m so often not generous to myself and can’t easily forgive what I often see as a lack of follow through, consistency, or productivity. Edicts of society that are driven into us so hard here in America but can never actually bring you or your loved ones a deep sense of happiness (nor your coworkers). Appreciation and generosity will take you much farther and propel your team to new level of fulfillment and awareness.
Thanks James. Great seeing you here today. Thanks for adding gratitude and generosity to this post. I’m finding the aggressive pursuit and practice of these qualities changes us more than they change others. I’ll add that if we expect generosity and gratitude we might want to extend it. 🙂 Cheers
Dan, good to be back here…long time since I have been on your I-Page. Love this post, my character is something that’s being noticed or picked up more and more I believe. It’s because I am becoming more of a happy person, happy to be me. No type of talent or wisdom could help you more than happiness and thankfulness for who you are. Thanks!
Wow! Look at the reaction of your readers, Dan–the leaders of businesses throughout the world–to what are considered the “soft issues” of management, love and character. It feels good to “do well” by “doing and being good.” And when people in our midst benefit from it and are better because of it, even life smiles upon us and everything we do.
At a non-denominational interfaith meeting some years ago, a young convert asked the panel:
“Are we Christians hypocrites if we love God only for reward?” A couple of the panelists offered
their answers, and one said this: “God is not loved without reward: God is loved without the
“thought” of reward.
Very nice job, Dan. Congrats.