Saturday, February 13, 2010

Jim Collins in his book, Good To Great, points out that exceptional executive leadership, is composed of the paradoxical blend of personal humility and professional will.

My old boss, Susan Costa, used to say, "We take our work seriously, but never ourselves."

Another supervisor, Dr. Susan McDaniel, said to me one time after observing a family interview I was conducting from behind a one way mirror. "It was a very good interview, Dave, very business like, very professional."

I said, "Good, great, thank you. What can I improve on?"

She said, "Well you were too professional, too business like."

I said, "Too professional? Too business like? What are you talking about?"

She said, "Dave I know you. You are warm, irreverant, have a good sense of humor. You were too serious in there. If you aren't having fun, you are not doing it right."

Her words lit me up like a light bulb. I had an epiphany. That was 30 years ago. And now, every time I feel stressed, anxious, frustrated, like I'm trying to hard, that this is too much work, I hear Susan McDaniel's words "Dave, if you're not having fun, you're not doing it right", and I lighten up, I look for the incongruity, the absurdiy, the humor in the situation. I catch myself taking myself too seriously, and this is always a mistake.

Lighten up!

This is aricle #6 in a series on Lessons In Management.

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