Our Greatest Threat is not Falling
It’s not the fall that harms a leader, but the lack of humility.
A child looking out onto the vast ocean naturally recognizes they are small in comparison. It’s a humbling, and refreshing experience. The noise of the waves drowns out the noise in your mind and can wash away stress with a renewed perspective. Everything else seems smaller too, including people or situations I view as problems.
I know a superintendent in a medium sized school district out West who is a living definition of humility for me. Of course he would resist that statement because he’s so, well, humble. Coming from a large southern school district to a smaller one might give some leaders reason to think they know better. Not him. It just makes him more curious about getting to know his new school family.
He genuinely wants to learn how to help them become better people so they can help kids grow into amazing adults. He listens to them, asks questions, helps them figure out what’s going on and how to improve learning, together. This kind of leader life-style creates many opportunities to celebrate success AND fall flat on your face. That could end a career for most or at least weaken their position… but not him.
A mistake to this humble superintendent is just an opportunity to show others how to get back up again. He quickly admits the fall, asks forgiveness and for feedback, then figures out how to do it better with a little help from his team. That’s it.
When others on his team stumble, he shows them the same grace and everyone learns that humility is the only known antidote to pride. Without humility to cushion the fall, it’s the pride that actually harms the leader.
Life is a team sport. Help your team cushion their falls and bounce back with humility.