Relationship Building: Dare to be Humble

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here’s an idea to help you check your ego at the door and build stronger relationships.

        General Colin Powell, then the nation’s former top military officer, always kept a special phone line in his office that only he would personally answer. He gave the phone number to people he trusted would call him to keep his ego in check, to make sure he was staying connected to the real world in his decision making.

Colin Powell as Secretary of State

        I  think of that personal Hotline as his “Snotline.”

      All leaders have their version of a Hotline to act quickly to divert a crisis, but how many leaders like General Powell have a “Snotline” –a dedicated phone line– to help them avert a personal crisis? How many leaders trust their friends enough to ask them to call him and alert him to what he can’t see in himself: like the proverbial snot hanging from his nose. Installing that “Snotline” takes humility, discipline and fortitude. Installing that “Snotline” takes leadership. Maybe that’s why the Romans gave their rulers a golden shield inscribed with the words: piety, clemency, justice and valor. Leaders dare to be humble.

     With humility comes wisdom as T.S. Eliot noted: “The only wisdom we can hope to acquire is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.” With humility comes revelation as Henry David Thoreau noted: “Humility like darkness reveals the heavenly lights.”With humility comes character as Norman Vincent Peale noted: “People with humility don’t think less of themselves, they just think about themselves less.”

    Maybe that’s why Albert Schweitzer always traveled third class. He never wrote a letter on a clean sheet of paper– the back of any scrap paper was fine. Maybe that’s why Albert Einstein once received a package from the post office labeled only Professor Einstein, Europe. He marveled at the excellent postal service without noting his own fame. And maybe that’s why Mohandas Gandhi did not like to be called Mahatma meaning “Great Soul” because it implied there were little souls. Leaders dare to be humble. Continue reading “Relationship Building: Dare to be Humble”

Paradox Thinking: Taking the Scum Off Your Mind

By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy

Here are a few ideas to help you stay balanced in your ironic topsy-turvy world. Reading time: 5:34

         The 4-year old girl stabbed her long thin spoon into the mountain of ice cream. She tasted the hot fudge, pursed her lips and said “Oh, that’s hot.” Then she swallowed, tasting the ice cream chaser.

        Her shocked tongue delightfully beamed “Oh, that’s cold!” Hot fudge sundaes are hot. And cold. At the same time. They’re a composite of opposites.

        So are leaders.

        Chances are you feel like you are in a tug-of war-every day with your feelings and thoughts, actions and behaviors. You’re not alone. Read on to gain some solace in realizing that parlaying paradox is a leadership skill that you develop over time.

                After all, the most effective leaders I’ve known are exemplars of opposites. They use their strength to create peace. They know only the strong can be gentle. They know they don’t know.

            They’re so proud, they’re humble.  They work in “exciting serenity” as artist Paul Cezanne characterized his working style.  Leaders, oozing in the hot fudge of innovation smothered over the cold ice cream of the bottom line, perform paradoxically.

        They are “quick but never in a hurry” as former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden exhorted his players. They persist paradoxically. They get up even when they can’t (as boxing champion Jack Dempsey‘s paradoxically defined a champion.)

Continue reading “Paradox Thinking: Taking the Scum Off Your Mind”