When I made the decision to restart my HR career, I gave it everything. Strive hard or leave. I started reading human resources materials and contacting everybody I could find who had even the slightest HR interest. I’m wholly committed to doing what I love.
I’m now beginning to reap the rewards of all that labor. Things changed after I stopped being passive and took charge of my job (try it). Recently, I’ve been given some amazing possibilities. Sometimes I wonder if I’m really that good.
Leadership Advice: “Am I” vs. “I Am”
It might be challenging to maintain humility if you start to get success, honors, and opportunities. If I had started my piece with, “Hey y’all, I’m the bomb,” how would you have seen me? most likely as a haughty jerk. “Humility is a considerably more desirable attribute,” is some of the best leadership advice I’ve ever heard.
Derek Rose of the NBA’s Chicago Bulls, and the youngest MVP in league history, is a great example. Whenever he gets an award or a win, he always thanks God, his mother, his teammates and coaches. He’s the frickin’ MVP. He could say “Oh yeah, I work hard and I am that good!” Because he does work hard and he is that good but if he says that, he’d be a douchebag.
At the funeral of Whitney Houston, multi-platinum entertainer, Grammy Award winner and actress, Kevin Costner, who co-starred with her in the film “The Bodyguard” said that Whitney wrestled with the question “Am I that good?” She was already a success at that time, yet she questioned herself. Because that’s what the great ones do, they never accept that they are good enough.
“I am that good” is more of a self-promoting motto that’s associated with irrational brash thinkers. By declaring “I am that good” you’re leading yourself to compliancy and entitlement. “I’m that good so you should follow me” or do as I do; that’s not cool and let’s remember there’s always someone better. It’s a powerful reminder and advice for any leader. Asking the question pushes the thinker to be their best, it drives them to greatness. They consider themselves lucky and are always wanting to prove that they are worthy of attention and opportunities they receive.
Luck or Business Leadership Skills?
Luck plays a part in this “Am I” versus “I am” philosophy. According to Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” people practice and study to become experts but not all Outliers are very successful. The successful ones were really lucky. But sometimes they also worked very hard learning, honing, and perfecting their craft as well as their business leadership skills or whatever their gift may be.
Many people proclaim “I am that good” when in actuality they are lucky. Someone gave them an opportunity. They know a friend of a friend… so on and so forth. Our luck (or lack of) determines much of our success. Luck can be as simple as when and where you were born.
No one makes it alone; it takes hard work, practice and luck. Then you get an opportunity like this one; writing an article that’s going to be read by thousands of people, from various walks of life, in different countries all over the world. I am sincerely honored and so much so that I had to ask myself, “Wow, Am I that good?”
Chris Fields is an HR professional and leadership guy who blogs and dispenses great (not just good) advice at Cost of Work. He’s known on the Twitters as @new_resource. Connect with Chris via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.