Shep Englander — Federation Journal
Fundamental #8: Be Humble
Fundamental #8: BE HUMBLE. Don’t let your own ego get in the way of doing what’s best for the team and for our various stakeholders, even when it can be trying. Don’t take things personally. Be open to learning from others, no matter what role they have, and regardless of their age, experience, or years with the agency. Everyone has something he/she can teach us, and everyone’s perspective has value.
Humility takes confidence.
Our mission–building a caring community–means that to engage volunteers we often highlight the volunteer’s value, role or contribution more than our own. Giving away the credit takes humility.
Tracy Grandelis, the Executive Assistant at the Pittsburgh Federation taught me that if a volunteer or supporter is upset she doesn’t even wait to fully understand what they are upset about before saying “I am so sorry.” (not a pretend apology like “I’m sorry you are upset” but just “I am so sorry.”)
So a good test of humility is “Can you fully apologize even when you had nothing to do with the problem?”
Not taking things personally is a practice that can transform our lives in and outside of our careers. Imagine you are in a rowboat on a beautiful day. You close your eyes to feel the peaceful water. Suddenly, something hits your boat and breaks that peacefulness. Before we can turn around we are angry and looking for the idiot in the boat that hit us. But if we look and see that the boat that bumped us is empty and just floated into us randomly, there is no one to be angry with.
It’s no different when a volunteer or colleague say something thoughtless. They are not being thoughtless because of you. It’s just random that their thoughtlessness spilled on you. So you don’t have to take it personally. It really isn’t about you.
Finally, like anything else, even humility can be taken too far. We are not try to be saintly and pretend that we never need recognition. Or that we are willing to be mistreated.
Let’s use humility to be effective but it’s also healthy to enjoy the recognition we earn by our hard work.
See here for Shep’s comments on all the fundamentals so far.