It’s the kind of movie that would show up on AMC these days, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves“. This retelling of the classic tale starring Kevin Costner as a dethroned English Lord without an English accent and Morgan Freeman as a runaway Saracen was a popular movie in the early 90’s. Movies like this are why people go to the theater. The bad guy is easy to hate. The good guy, even though he operates outside the law, is easy to love. Peasants are challenged to fight for freedom. Kings are admonished to lead through service. And self-sacrifice is celebrated as the means to vanquish the enemy, save the damsel in distress and ride off into happily-ever-after.
There’s a great scene where Robin is talking with Maid Marion. Marion asks, “How is it, that a once-arrogant young nobleman has found contentment living rough with the salt of the earth?” Robin Hood responds, “I’ve seen knights in armor panic at the first hint of battle. And I’ve seen the lowliest, unarmed squire pull a spear from his own body to defend a dying horse. Nobility is not a birthright. It’s defined by one’s actions.”
This is a beautiful idea. Nobility isn’t about our station, income, position or power. It’s about our choice to use the influence we have for the benefit of others.
Recently the Lead Change Group released a book called, “The Character-Based Leader: Instigating a Leadership Revolution…One Person at a Time.” Click the title to visit the download link at Amazon.com. I had the privilege of being one of the 21 authors involved in this project. The heart of the book is this idea that leadership doesn’t come from where you are, but from who you are. Leadership isn’t about your position. It’s about your choices.
Humility is a quality common to character-based leaders. That’s the focus of my contribution to the book. Like Robin Hood, the character-based leader recognizes that leadership isn’t a birthright. It’s defined by one’s actions.
As you take a look at the book and consider what it means to be a character-based leader there are 4 principles that can help you grow in humility.
See the Need – I’m never more aware of how little I have than when I’m surrounded by multimillion dollar homes. I’m never more aware of how much I have than when I’m standing on a trash dump in Mexico watching teenagers build a 16×20 wooden shed someone will soon call their home. You can’t make the noble choice to be humble if you don’t see the need right in front of you.
Know Your Stuff – It’s not about the size of your bank account or level of education. You’ve got to know what you know, know what you have, and know how you can use it for the benefit of others.
Make the Time – I know you’re busy, but let’s be honest, busy people make the world go ’round. Busy people move things forward. When you need something done don’t waste your time expecting a lazy person to do it. Ask a busy person to get it done. Better, recognize that you are that busy person and serving someone else, helping bring their dreams to life is an investment of time worthy of your attention.
Ask the Question – In every situation, with every interaction, on every project, job, and in every relationship there’s one great question that can help cut through all the clutter. “How can I make this better?” As you walk through your office, how can you improver the spirit of those with whom you work? In your neighborhood association, how can you be a better neighbor? In your community of faith, what can you do to move that message forward? Spit and polish don’t make the car run, but they sure make it worth taking the picture and pinning up the poster. What spit and polish can you add into the lives of others? How can you make it better?
Humility isn’t thinking highly of yourself of lowly of yourself. True humility isn’t thinking of yourself at all. Make the noble choice – serve someone else.