Jim Collins made the concept of Level 5 Leadership famous. In a nutshell, Collins studied great companies and what was common across all was a leader who had both unbelievable humility coupled with fierce resolve.
You can’t just turn into a Level 5 leader overnight. I’ve never had a problem with having fierce resolve, or what my friends tease me about, having what is called an “unwavering commitment” in everything I do. But I wish I had more of my father’s humility. I admire my father for this, as evidenced in this quotation from him at the age of 86: “Still, I am learning”. That’s powerful. Most of us think we already have it all figured out, when in actuality we’re kidding ourselves.
At the time of the Collins writing, these two leadership attributes were an amazing paradox, one that I personally still have not figured out, but a recent David Zweig book called “Invisibles–The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion” has introduced a newer, and equally difficult paradox for me:
Work out Loud, but be invisible. That one, I admit, I don’t have figured out.
Recently, I was disappointed that my personal blog did not seem to be generating any meaningful metrics, and my spirits were lifted when I remembered that one day I had shared this story out loud, and something cool happened afterwards:
As I got out of my car this morning, I looked down at my shoes. “That’s not something you see everyday,” I said out loud. On my left foot, I had a black shoe on. On my right, a brown one. All I could do was laugh. Didn’t get upset. Or mad. Just laughed. Perfect shoes for an imperfect moment!
My 1st grader has become somewhat of a permanent roommate in a sleeping bag on the floor of our bedroom. He even refers to it as “our room” in his conversations. Pretty soon he’ll start to tape up posters on the wall, I think.
Since he was still sleeping, I put on my shoes in the dark (obviously!), and didn’t notice until I got out of my car. So to solve the problem I went to Marshalls–not open yet. Daytons? Nope. How about that fancy new shoe shop in the skyway? Guy in there drinking coffee, but door locked. So I went to Target. Meronas for $25 saved the day. Sometimes life throws you a curveball–how you choose to deal with it is up to you. Today I chose to just roll with it, make fun of myself, and share my story of imperfection with you today. At least now I have a spare pair of dress shoes!
The most powerful comment or “like” I ever received was neither a comment nor a like. It wasn’t even out loud. Someone told me privately that on this particular day, their spouse was having a real hard time. He said he shared my story with her to let her know that everyone has things go sideways from time to time. She laughed when he showed her my picture and subsequently recovered. He wanted me to know—personally–that my words helped.
That was pretty humbling to me.
I am a fledgling blogger. For any others out there starting to share your stories and work out loud, don’t get caught up in the number of comments or likes. Your impact through writing can’t always be measured.