humility is a good thingIt was weird—hearing two speakers use the same word but coming away from their talks with such different feelings about them. 

The word?


What made one speaker so remarkable was how infrequently he said “I.” He described nearly all his work and accomplishments in terms of “we.” And he was the boss. Owner, too.

He came across as authentic, caring, and centered. Someone we wanted to know, learn from, follow. Someone we would want to work for. He drew us in.

Then there was the other fellow.

His use of “I” was so excessive, we began counting the number of times he used it in his talk. In the twenty minutes during which we kept a tally, he said “I” 53 times!

He came across as egotistical and commanding. He was off-putting, not someone we’d want to work for or with. He pushed us away.

As leaders, the choice is ours.

We get to decide if we want to pull people toward us and our ideas, or if we want to push them away.

We all need to think long and hard about which image we want to convey, what type of leader we want to be, what kind of legacy we want to leave behind.

7 instances when saying “I” is a good thing

Say “I” when…

1) The idea you are sharing is 100% yours. Yours alone. Not one iota borrowed from anyone, anywhere, anytime.

2) You’re the one who really screwed up. Made the big mistake. Tanked the deal. Lost the dog. Called the pass play. Doesn’t matter how big or small the blooper was, it’s all yours, especially if you’re the boss.

3) You, and only you, did all the work. Every single itty-bitty piece of it. You even made the copies.

4) You’re the boss and your company, department, team, whatever, made a mistake that sent a customer(s) into a tizzy. You’ve got everyone’s back. No one, not ever, gets tossed under the bus. Own it. 

5) You’re sharing your personal opinion. Speaking truth to power. Maybe even using the power of your position or your personal power to be the contrarian because the boss really, really needs to hear it.

6) It’s one of those situations, like a job interview or requesting a raise, when tooting your horn (truthfully and sincerely, of course) is appropriate. Required even. Stick up for yourself. Make your case. See number 1 and 4. Be confident yet humble.

7) You’re telling someone how much they mean to you.

Pull folks to you and watch the tsunami of good things happen.

What’s your views on when saying “I” is a good thing?

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