Saturday, May 05, 2007

The paradox of great leadership - audacity and humility

This weekend is commencement weekend for Miami University. That means that I'm offering a lot of farewells that don't feel all that great. There are some graduates from Miami (both Masters College Student Personnel and undegraduates) who I will miss dearly in the coming weeks and months. As I say farewell to some of these incredible people, my belief is that the depth of our relationship will stand the test of time and that this farewell is only temporary.

The graduates who I will most miss are those who I've come to realize reflect a profound paradox. They are at the same time full of audacity but also of humility. These two words probably don't cross your mind as dwelling comfortably in one person. However, when it comes to leadership, they fit quite nicely and, perhaps, they are necessary paradoxes that must co-exist in those who seek to transform themselves and others through leadership. Having audacity is dreaming so big that others may perceive the vision as grandiose or impractical. While there are those who will criticize people with big dreams, these visionaries are, indeed, the only ones who will help us transcend the present. They can see a different and better world and they are not bashful to proclaim it. On the flip side of the paradox is humility. Those who captivate me most are those who have big dreams but who reflect a deep humility, not fake or dismissive, that recognizes the greatness of compelling ideas. These humble individuals know that their ideas are not theirs alone, but that they are the ideas of legions of others who are afraid to claim them. It seems to me that this kind of humility sees the future while at the same time engaging others in respectful and empowering ways that brings the future into the present.

Today I postponed the journey I share with these special individuals (you know who you are) who graduated from Miami today. They have the audacity to dream and the humility to strive with others to bring about a better world. It's been a profound and wonderful time sharing this space with you and I look forward to the broader journey you now embrace...

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