A core competency in great leadership is humility – thinking more of other people and less of ourselves. Many people lack this trait, which is why, if they are in a leadership position, they fail long term. Those who truly want to be first need to put themselves second. Here are a few ideas to consider as you place yourself on the path to second place.
Visualize Yourself Less Selfish
The more selfish you are, the less you realize it (or care). Start with knowing you are pretty self-centered and visualize yourself being less so. Just like anything else, if you strive to be something, it takes training and practice. Over time those other-centered traits will become habits and eventually you will be less about yourself. A man wrapped up in himself is a very small package.
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Consider What the Other Person Is Going Through
The annoyances in life can be so frustrating. Like when we get cut off in traffic on our way home from work. We cringe when we get stuck behind the person with 18 items in the 10 items only lane at the grocery store. How about the van in the drive-thru ordering for 10 people instead of going inside to do it? The list is nearly endless. These annoyances usually draw our most fiery reactions and wrath. How dare this person inconvenience me! But what are they going through that might be causing them to act so thoughtlessly? Putting ourselves second in those situations will not only greatly reduce our stress levels; it will also help open our eyes to the suffering of others. Instead of being blinded by rage, our eyes may instead notice that the extra items at the grocery store are medical items for a sick child at home. Or the man who cut us off in traffic feels disgusting because he just came from a chemo treatment. We just never know…
Display Unexpected Kindness
Many people feel like it is them against the world. As Norm from Cheers once famously said, “It’s a dog-eat-dog world and I’m wearing Milk Bone underwear.” How many circumstances do we hear and see where people completely disregard the well-being of others? We watch the crazed shoppers pushing in a store for sale items while they step over the elderly man on the floor in cardiac arrest and gasping for air. Are you the person who would keep going for the 50% off television? Or are you the rare exception that would help the man to safety and get him medical attention? Your superficial needs sacrificed for the real life and death need of a fellow human being. Practice displaying unexpected kindness in your interactions with people. It is not too simple to say that sometimes just a genuine smile can make all the difference in the world in the day of someone else.
Avoid the At All Costs Mentality
“Get it done at all costs!” We have all heard that at some point in our lives, and some hear it every single day. It is said to inspire laser-type focus and motivation. But the actual “costs” are not often considered. Those costs are destructive and damaging to an overall larger plan. If times are desperate enough to call for such action, then it is time for wiser, calmer heads to consider other alternatives. Place yourself second in these situations and actually consider what the costs really are. Are they worth the short-term gain?
Take What You Need and Leave the Rest
We are a consumer society. We do it quite well. We have two and three of just about everything. “Take what you need and leave the rest” is a value that seems foreign to a lot of us now. However, if we returned to such a simple principle of a decent society, how much better could the world be for all of its inhabitants? Strive to be second, consume less, and prize the rare jewel of contentment.
Leave Judgment to God
How much of our lives do we waste brooding over useless grudges and dreams of judgment and revenge? These thoughts literally eat our own insides away while the object of our scorn usually is clueless to our hidden desires. Let these things go. They are the height of self-centeredness. Have we not done worse to others? By letting go of the destructive feelings harboring inside of us, we put ourselves second by letting God handle these hurts first.
Practice Healthy Habits
This might seem like a self-centered suggestion. It isn’t when one considers the ramifications our health has on the people that count on us the most. Our wives, our children, our friends and our business partners depend on us daily. That requires we strive to be healthy and clear thinking as much as possible. This is one we probably all need to really work on, because it is easy to consider health our own business. Usually it is not until tragedy occurs that the wake-up call is received. Let us place ourselves second behind the needs of those that dearly count on us and love us. They need us here for as long as possible, so let’s have the discipline to be healthy.
Master Invisible Leadership
If glory and fame are your ambition, than this is a worthless strategy. If the idea instead is to esteem others better than yourself, then there is no better way to lead than to be practically invisible. It takes a selfless ego and great skill to be humble. This is basically the “man behind the curtain” theory, except used for positive results. There is great satisfaction to be found in watching a plant blossom from afar. Knowing that it is not tainted by any elements of greed or desire, but just pure and of decent intent. Master the art of invisible leadership.
Envy Is For the Weak
No matter our station in life, there will always be another that has topped us in some form or fashion. Chasing after the hope that somehow you wind up at the very top of the pyramid is just a fool’s desire. What is so great once you get there? Nothing. Just the constant fear of being knocked off now that you made it. Envy leads to these types of pointless, self-involved adventures. “If a man gains the whole world, but loses his soul, what did he gain?” Leave envy for the losers. In the end, it all goes back in the box. Realize what truly matters is what survives your death.
Build a Wealthy Spirit
Ask any human on their deathbed what true wealth is, and they will undoubtedly tell you that it has zero to do with monetary stature. True wealth is accumulated by doing exactly what this list is preaching, and that is putting ourselves second as much as we can. Kindness, sympathy, compassion, hard work, honesty and sincerity are but a few of the key ingredients to a selfless, extremely rich existence. Live well. Live second.
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Huddle up with your co-workers today and ask: “Is humility underrated at our company? Why?”
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