justkarkar

Brushes with Greatness, Pt. 1

Posted on: December 8, 2010

There may never be any sequel, but, like, whatever. I do what I want.

I know I announced to the world that I was going to bed an hour ago, but I got sidetracked. Thank God for Twitter and Facebook and other electronic logs of my life.

So, among the more amazing things that I have had the pleasure and honor of doing in 2010 was meeting, having lunch with, and chatting with Ms. Anne Mulcahy.

For those of you who do not recognize the name, Anne is the former CEO of Xerox Corporation… She is known as “The Accidental CEO” and known for “The Turnaround of the Century.”

Named CEO of the Year by a jury of her peers at ChiefExecutive.net and ranking as one of U.S. News and World Reports’ “America’s Best Leaders” in 2008, and earning the #15 spot on Forbes’ 2009 Most Powerful Women list (she was 6th in 2005), Anne literally worked her way up from the bottom. She started as a field sales rep, and despite very limited financial knowledge, transformed the company from struggling (advised to declare bankruptcy) to prosperous during her tenure as CEO.

Ms. Mulcahy is also rumored to be a top candidate for the White House National Economic Council.

Her successor, Ursula Burns, is the first Black woman to head a S&P 100 company.

What brought this to mind is this “My Year in Statuses 2010” app on Facebook, which included a quote I posted from our conversations and her speech:

“One of the most important aspects of self-confidence is humility and saying you don’t know. Leaders have to get better at understanding that it is their people who define their success.”

This is a recurring theme in the speeches I’ve heard from Fortune 500 CEOs and other leaders who have accomplished the seemingly impossible, but I think this was the best phrasing I’ve heard to date, because it incorporates and pinpoints the ego issue. You have to be confident in yourself to recognize and acknowledge your weaknesses, and you have to be confident in yourself to seek and accept the assistance of those who complement your shortcomings.

That holds true for any task, any relationship, and undertaking, business or domestic.

And, with that said, I’m going to bed.

xo

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