One of the sure-fire marks of the quiet change-makers is their renunciation of the need to impress others. They do this by embracing their smallness, doing the little things, and quietly cheerleading kindness wherever it pops up. They do it by being humble.
But these people go further. They ignore the nagging voice in their heads that says, “How will this look? What are the optics on these words or this action?”
Notice I’m not saying they’re oblivious to this voice. Perhaps at some point, that’s true. But most of us experience the tug to impress and please others for a long time.
What’s different about a humble leader is that she’s not controlled by that voice. She knows it’s there but she knows that listening to that voice leads to paralysis and lame half-measures. He smiles at the voice slyly and says, “Not now. I have important work to do.”
Don’t get me wrong. These quiet change agents are mindful about how their words and actions may hurt or inspire others. They care deeply about the common good. It’s just that they’re not solving for popularity or influence.
That’s because, for this person, it’s not about them.
If the PR person in your head is having a panic attack right now, you can see how this kind of humble living is not for the faint of heart. It takes real strength. It takes rethinking everything, including the importance of our precious reputations.
What if we took a one-day vacation from worrying about what everyone thinks of us and just did what was right and good?