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Not About Me

September 1, 2020

Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Life, which has sold over 30 million copies, opens with this simple but profound line: “It’s not about you.”

While this is a Christian book, each of us need to be reminded of this important concept, regardless of what we believe. In our subconscious, we naturally believe it’s about us.

A couple of weeks ago, Bart Newman spoke to our ADDO team at our company retreat. Bart’s currently the COO of Thrive Farmers Coffee, but his journey has been anything but conventional. Bart earned a master’s degree in Management, Economics and International Relations from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, a Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia School of Law, and practiced law at a firm here in Atlanta. However, he left practicing law after September 11, 2001 and joined the military, completed a year-long tour in Iraq, and wrote a book inspired by lessons he learned titled Because of Baghdad: What a Father Would Say About Life, if He Didn’t Come Home to Say It. Bart’s resume speaks for itself, but the way he lives his life far outshines his accolades. I deeply respect him and was thrilled to have him speak to our team.

In his talk, Bart outlined his two keys to winning in a post-COVID world:

1. Care deeply.
Be Humble Daily.

On the surface, all of us would agree that humility is important. Many of us would amen and affirm Paul’s charge to the church in Philippi: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:3–4). At our core, we know it’s important to care for the people around us.

But in the business world, humility is a trait that’s vastly overlooked and undervalued. Why? Deep down we want success to be about us. We desire the credit. We want to feel essential to the organization. We need to be an integral part of the process. And, far too often, we fail to see that our greatest opportunity for success lies in our pursuit of humility.

Bart said it this way: “Organizational effectiveness is inversely proportional to the amount that it is about me.” 

I’ve learned this is true for my speaking engagements. Ike Reighard gave me some of the best speaking advice I’ve ever received. He said, “You can’t be the hero of your own story.” It’s easy to go up on stage wanting my audience to leave thinking that I am impressive. But my best messages come out of a deep care for the people I’m speaking to. Those messages impact more lives when I remember that every person in the audience is important and deserves to be elevated, equipped, and inspired.

The less I make it about me, the better my speech will be.

The same is true for any business. We’ve all felt the difference between the business focused on how it’s perceived by the customer and the one focused on caring for the customer. The first business may feel fresh, fun, and innovative. But their goal is for you to leave saying, “Wow, they’re awesome.” The second business is focused on making you feel awesome, and it wins in the long run by making you feel cared for, seen, valued, and important. 

So here’s my question for you today: What is motivating you and your organization? Are you motivated by a desire to elevate and care for people, or are you motivated by a desire to elevate yourself and your brand?

It’s not always easy, but take intentional steps toward humility this week. You may be surprised to find they are also steps toward growth and success. 


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