“Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way…” – Mac Davis
I started uninviting myself from my own meetings. I was only doing this for my own good. It hurt me more than it did my team for sure. Heck, I think I saw party hats and a ticker tape parade going on in that small conference room when they realized that I really wasn’t showing up. Sure, there were smudges of slobber which clearly identified exactly where I had pressed my face up against the glass while peering in with woebegone eyes of longing. They needed me in there right? Who would lead them? Who would give witty insights? Who would answer my own questions? Who else would laugh at my jokes if I wasn’t there!?
I had a problem and I was trying to solve it. Being a lean leader required humility, which I was sorely lacking. At first I thought my first step would be to break out the scratchy robes of a Trappist monk and proclaim my humility to the world. Apparently, humility doesn’t work that way. Fortunately, a kind, generous, and anonymous co-worker came to my rescue and left a modified version of the 12-step program for addiction underneath my windshield wiper in the employee parking lot. Yes, it was true…I was addicted to the sound of my own voice.
I can’t wait to look in the mirror, cuz I get better lookin’ each day…
The Twelve Steps
1. I admit that I am powerless over my addiction to the sound of my own voice. -My mouth is unmanageable, I comment on my own comments.
2. I have come to believe that a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity. -My team.
3. I have made a decision to turn my mouth over to my team as I understood it. – Shut up. Listen.
4. I have made a searching and fearless inventory of my humility. -I had to call off the search due to lack of evidence.
5. I have admitted to God, myself, and to my team the exact nature of my inability to listen. – They were all like…”and next you are going to tell us the sky is blue”
6. I am entirely ready to have my team remove all these defects of character. – Insert my wife’s maniacal laugh here.
“To know me is to love me, I must be a hell of a man…”
7. I have humbly asked my team to help me remove my ego from our interactions. -Wait. What?
8. I have made a list of all the people I have harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all. – OK, let’s just start and end with my team for now!
9. I have made direct amends to my team wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them and others. – Well, they may injure themselves by trying to forcibly remove the look of skepticism on their own faces in my attempts to listen to everyone but myself.
10. I will continue to take personal inventory, and when wrong, promptly admit it. – Ouch. Really? Couldn’t I just put on a Trappist monk robe instead?
11. I have sought through feedback and reflection to improve my conscious contact with my team, as I UNDERSTAND them. – I guess I ought to try that. All of it.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, I will try to carry this message to others who suffer from my affliction. – I can totally see this problem in others. Really well. Very obvious. Man, they are horrible!
Well, maybe uninviting myself from my own meetings is a drastic measure, but it drove home the point to me. I eventually started putting myself in my own time out in other meetings as well. TAKE BABY STEPS. First I would try to stop talking for 5 seconds. Then 10 seconds. Then 30 seconds. Then a whole minute! Then I got to the difficult things like actually not even thinking of a comment while someone else was talking. Then, without even thinking about it, I was asking clarifying questions!
Maybe someday this could work with my marriage as well…yeah, probably too far ahead of myself.
“Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble, but I am doing the best that I can.”