By Dan Rockwell
I don’t know. But I know it isn’t you.
The belief that you are the center of the universe is a great deception that prevents you from reaching your potential as a leader. It’s a small universe if you are its center.
Would you want to play in a symphony where the musicians ignored each other and followed their inner voice? What happens when symphonies ignore each other and turn a blind eye to the conductor Symphony becomes cacophony when each member does their own thing.
You become bigger when you give yourself to something bigger than yourself. Others make you matter: In its simplest form, a leader is a person with followers. In other words, leadership REQUIRES others. Without others, you aren’t a leader.
How you view others determines the nature of your leadership.
You need enough ego to want to make a difference, but not so much that life is all about you. David Letterman’s service to Habitat for Humanity illustrates the point.
“When you help others, you feel better about yourself. ” David Letterman
The search to feel better about himself led him to serve others. That’s healthy ego. Unhealthy ego serves only itself.
Barack Obama spoke the following words at Senator John McCain’s memorial service.
“By his own account, John was a rebellious young man. In his case, that’s understandable, what faster way to distinguish yourself when you’re the son and grandson of admirals than to mutiny. Eventually, though, he concluded that the only way to really make his mark on the world is to commit to something bigger than yourself.” (September 1, 2018.)
What does it mean to live for something bigger than yourself? It means you are no longer the center. Your most frightening and fulfilling power is placing something other than yourself at the center of your life. Leaders who live for themselves live small disappointing lives.
Seven ‘bigger than yourself’ practices:
- Visualize putting your team at the center of your focus for one day. Keep pushing yourself off center stage and shining the light on others.
- Get excited about things others are doing.
- Talk less about yourself and more about others.
- Ask people to share their perspective. “What do you think?”
- Notice your judgement of others. Are you typically negative? This suggests you think too highly of yourself.
- Stand up for your convictions with grace. Putting others at the center isn’t being a pushover.
- Determine if your actions matter. “Will this matter next week, next month, next year?”