Humble Success (Part Two)

Last week, I talked about the business case for humble success and the first three pride “derailers” that can destroy your business and personal life. If you didn’t have a chance to read Part One, I encourage you to go back and review it.

This week, I will give you the final two derailers and tell you about the finest business leader I know, who modeled Humble Success for me.

  1. "I am irreplaceable." Successful leaders sometimes delude themselves into believing their organizations will fail if they leave. In their mind, this delusion means they must do anything possible to remain in their role, to "save the company." They fire potential successors, create organizational turmoil, and engage in bitter proxy fights. Often, they put the company at risk, and the only way to save it is to fire them.
  2. Temptation. Successful people can believe that they are less prone to temptation or, if they succumb, their fame or money will protect them. Ancient wisdom is as pertinent today as 2,000 years ago:  If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin.  But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience.  A good example is former Governor and Attorney General for the State of New York, Elliot Spitzer. He had money, power and fame. He thought he was above temptation (or at least getting caught) and succumbed to the temptation of engaging prostitutes, derailing his success.

Humble success is possible in today's business world. The finest leader I ever had the pleasure to work for is Judson Green. Judson is an incredible "Renaissance Man" who was Chairman of Disney's Parks and Resorts division. He transformed the culture of the division, and led the company through five years of double-digit revenue and income growth, achieving $6 billion in revenue. He then went on to become Chief Executive Officer of NAVTEQ, a preeminent mapping software company, taking the company public and then selling it to Nokia. Beyond his substantial business success, Judson is a concert-level jazz pianist and composer.

Judson epitomizes the Level 5 leader who cares about the people who work for him, and builds strong trust and loyalty. At Disney, Judson always made himself available to help any Cast Member who came to him, despite his very demanding schedule. He taught leadership, through a fascinating Leadership Jazz seminar. He was a major cheerleader for the team, and fought hard to get the resources and rewards necessary to build a world-class culture. He was very focused on business success, but when that success occurred, he gave the credit to his team rather than highlighting himself. He did not fall prey to the pride derailers, and succeeded in life and leadership through humility and service. He has a fruitful legacy in leaders who follow his example and impact the lives of thousands.

Is this the type of leader and person you would like to become? Recognizing the pride derailers and taking steps to foster humility using many of the ideas in this book will promote a lifetime of humble success.

Action Points
• Recognize that humility is a key requirement for long-term success.
• Understand your "pride derailers" and take steps to prevent your misperceptions and temptations from destroying you.
• Ask a good friend to help you know when your pride is harmful to you and others, and remedy the situation.
• Look for and follow role models of humble success.

Continued success, exceptional performance, a lasting legacy

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