The Humility Factor

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What does Luck have to do with our career trajectory?

Plenty; and let’s not be forgettin’.

Remembering that Luck, Timing and Circumstance often have no small amount to do with being in the right place at the right time, taking advantage of a unique circumstance to showcase (or show-off!) one’s skill or talent, meeting the right person (when s/he’s in a mood that is receptive to what we are or want to be), or whatever series of fortunate events has led us to the project on which we now work, the title we may now carry is a valuable habit to embrace.

What’s the point of this?

The point is that it does us good to remember that there are a lot of people as smart, as creative, as insightful and empathetic, as thoughtful and intuitive, as assiduous and meticulous as are we…currently pumping gas, feeding chickens, weeding gardens, picking fruit, handling garbage, working in plants and factories or…if you can imagine…being lawyers. (OK, I’m kidding with that last one.)

Some do these things, above, because they like or want to do them; though likely not most of them, I’d wager.

We are lucky to be in this particular service industry. (…and let’s not lose sight of the fact that Entertainment is a Service Industry, if we do our jobs well; there should be no distractions and the audience fully taken care-of for us to consider ourselves fully successful.) We craft experiences, tell stories in myriad ways, take people to places they’ve only imagined or which they may have thought were lost forever. We ease their minds of the daily worries while we have them in our hands.

We are very, very lucky. With that Luck comes our concomitant responsibility to embrace Humility, to remain Humble, to watch ourselves from taking ourselves too seriously and allowing us to think we in some way Deserve to be doing what we do.

So much of this, of being where we are, doing what we love do to is Luck.

How can this Humility manifest?

Listen. Listen to every one around…especially when developing an idea. Hear as may ideas and approaches as are available before deciding on a course. Sometimes, what seems the most ridiculous or mundane of ideas can have just that germ in it that inspires brilliance that might otherwise have been missed.

Listen. Listen to those in junior positions, listen to those in parallel positions, listen to those in no position to make a suggestion. One Never Knows from whence the next Idea will come.

Let Go of Ego. Rarely, rarely, rarely is One Guy’s Way the Only Way to accomplish something. It may be the way s/he does it; but frankly, if that’s the way s/he does it every time, that method or process may well be running the risk of becoming stale and irrelevant.

Don’t get stuck in past successes.

Listen to suggestion, take out the virtual toolbox, be sure the tools are polished and ready,  then apply them to the project or process in a way that is inspired by the goal, by the audience, by the story, by the other minds at the table. Allow the path to success to change with each journey; that is where Discovery lives.

Be willing to start fresh, each time. Of course, what was done before will inform what is next accomplished; yet we can allow for the possibility that a different way might be the better way. To do so, one must be open to the surrounding creative, sharp minds…all minds, actually.

Ignore Titles. People are not the jobs they hold, they are not their titles.

From the microcosm of the workplace, headquarters or team, where even the new junior member may possibly be the most realistically innovative (okay: rare, but it could happen: more often, that kid just thinks s/he’s the answer to everything.) to the broader macro of the guy on the street or the bank teller or the gas station attendant…

One never knows what experiences bring others into one’s own sphere: so, best we keep eyes and ears open to what can come our way.

Never dismiss before fully hearing. Actually, never dismiss: what may not be germane today may germinate and grow in the The Idea on the next project.

Humility. The best idea doesn’t have to be the Leader’s. The Leader is responsible for recognizing, embracing and developing the best idea…without ego. That can only be accomplished without ego. Without Assumption.

I recently came across a quote by the inimitable Sir Ken Robinson;

“The role of a creative leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas and feel that they are valued.”

…and the best way to see that a person feels valued is to show that person that s/he is listened-to and heard. Every idea fuels the next one. It’s organic: it’s creative physics.

And I’ll share a grave danger; that of one who listens protectively – if one is working with a previously-envisioned goal in mind and hanging onto that goal – the listening is then false, the energy in the room and the processes undertaken will reflect that falseness, that inauthenticity.

Being willing to embrace the new does not mean the New will prevail, necessarily: it only means the New will be actively considered. And the practical fact is that everything heard, somehow, ends up as some part of the project or result; whether nuanced or fully articulated, somehow it often all ends up in there.

Everything changes. Be a part of that. Be open to it. One who has the zen discipline to maintain that approach stands to be seen as far more successfully creative…and will in fact most certainly be more successful in inspiring and managing creativity than most others.

Simply keep in mind how lucky are we all to be doing what we love…and that very likely everyone else on a given team is just as lucky if not more so.

This, alone, will serve the process – and, ultimately, our audiences – ever so well.



Today, I’ve launched my new, UAE website. Take a look:


“IMHO” the ebook is, wonderfully, still a free download from iTunes or the iBooks store…but only for those who are able to appreciate the evolution of process and can let go of The Way We Do It.

One thought on “The Humility Factor

  1. As usual you spin a beautiful cautionary tale to ignoring the signs, dismissing the obvious, or taking your luck for granted.

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