I received some great advice early in my career as a speaker not to let my ego get ahead of me and make me feel more important than I really am or become overly impressed with myself. The speaking stage can be seductive in many ways. It’s a position of authority and leadership. People applaud you and seek out your advice or opinions. Some want selfies with you and others want an autograph. If you do a great job, you might even get the accolade of a standing ovation, an invitation for a return visit, or even be hired by audience members for future business. It can be heady stuff, and unless you’re attentive, before you know it, your head can swell, and the ego can inflate. Staying humble and keeping myself and my opinions in proper perspective is key… Remembering that I am here to serve, not to be served; to contribute, not to perform.
I have followed or preempted speakers who felt they were so important that they were perfectly entitled to throw a fit, raise their voice, and even hurl obscenities and insults at the AV crew, room hosts, or even the meeting planner all because the room or stage was not set up according to their instructions, their time was cut short, or something else didn’t line up with their expectations and importance.
I never quite understood the rationale behind this behavior. It has been my experience that by learning my AV tech’s name, treating them with respect, and even acknowledging their service with a small gift or note, I get the first-class assistance when I need it the most… often right in the middle of my program. By rolling with the punches, flexing to the inevitable changes, and making mishaps part of the program, I’ve created a strong referral network among meeting planners. And, I have had a lot more fun and less stress during the event.
I know I am an important contributor to my industry, audiences, clients, family, and society. But I’m not more important than anyone else. The opinions, advice, and theories which I express from the stage, to clients, and even in this weekly blog are just that… my opinions. They are not THE truth. They are simply MY truth at this moment in time. I share them in the hopes they help people and professionals to do better, live easier, and make a bigger difference in their life and the lives of others. But there are others who are far smarter and have deeper understandings than me. They are who I can learn from. I love being in rooms where I know I am not the smartest person. More and more, I am appreciating the value of being humble, open, and curious about another view or perspective.
This week, check your ego and your opinion of yourself. Hopefully just because you own the business, you don’t think that there is nothing of value you could learn from your newest employee. Hopefully, we never think that just because we are a manager or team lead that those who report to us don’t have important lessons to teach us. And, if you are new to the team, just because you’ve done things differently somewhere else, hopefully you will remember the value of learning the ways of your new team and adding in value where you can. We are all important. And no one is more important than another. Everyone matters. Everyone has value.
“Being humble means recognizing we are not on earth to see how important we can become, but to see how much difference we can make in the lives of others.”
~ Gordon B. Hinkley