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“Good, better best, never let it rest, until your good becomes your better and your better becomes your best,” John Cassis. Let that sink in. If you are good at what you do or being who you are could you be better? Every day I am trying to be a little bit better than I was the day before. I am slowly transforming – seeking to get better – every day. Rather than merely wishing and hoping, I measure my progress against a 12-point standard. The twelve points are divided equally into three categories humility, empathy, and constructive action. I’ll address humility this week. The four points contained herein are ego, the golden rule, and lifting others up.

I can’t speak for all leaders, but of the four, ego is the hardest one for me to tame. As a leader, I was pulled in different directions. No matter what decisions I made there was criticism. And there were those who wanted what was best for them at the expense of the organization. I had to be strong and do what I thought was right and not show weakness. Leaders need to be strong, but also need a dose of healthy humility. Those with healthy humility know they do not have all the answers. They know the difference between being self-confident and ego-tripping. A humble leader is open to hearing the opinions of others but knows that the buck stops with him or her. Humble leaders often take the blame when things go wrong and give credit to others when things go well. Relationships matter. The best leaders subordinate their egos for the good of the group or organization.

The Golden Rule is simple; treat others as you want to be treated. If this is the case, why is there so much strife in the workplace and elsewhere? I can’t think of any circumstance where a person wants to be mistreated or disrespected. Yet there are those who with malice of forethought willfully mistreat others. Could there be justification to warrant such behavior? Only the persons who engage in this manner can answer this question. My remedy for dealing with this downward spiral is to seek resolution to what lies beneath the cause of Golden Rule violations. It could have been a misunderstanding, misread gesture, or serious infraction. Nevertheless, to resolve the issues individuals must find the root causes and effectively address them.

Like Malcolm X, “I am for truth, no matter who tells it.” There are things about me that I don’t want to hear but need to hear so I can get better. I don’t want to be with the kind of people who praised the Emperor’s clothes when he had none. “Yes people” who tell people what they think they want to hear. In the short run, the truth can hurt, but eventually, it will prevent costly mistakes. The 1986 Challenger rocket explosion comes to mind. When telling the truth, always be mindful of how you tell it.

Lifting others up is the other side of ego. It’s telling others how much you appreciate them and the contributions they make. Money is great, but it is a short-term fix. How you make people feel means so much more. When you make people feel good about themselves they feel good about you. It is gratitude. You’ve seen how people’s faces light up when they receive public recognition. Other ways to lift people up include, but are not limited to providing the opportunity to gain experience and grow, autonomy, rewards, and awards.

Every day I assess how my day went in terms of taming my ego, practicing the Golden Rule, accepting the truth, and lifting others up. Some days I do better than others, but overall I have more triumphs than setbacks. I am a work in progress. Good, better best…