Being humble. The corporate way.

Non-technical post today.

I remember while back, almost 7 years ago, after my first a few months in the company I sent an email. Long one. Angry one. Full of ideas for improvements, at least in my opinion, some accusations and lots of very direct questions. Attached my supervisors, their supervisors, a few other guys. Response came a few days later. Diplomatic one.

It was the beginning of my journey in regards to working on my humble attidue and how I see it today – in a corporate way. I started realizing things are not happening as fast as Iwanted to and moreover Change takes time. It’s not anymore up to 30 guys in one office, not an interactive agency environment anymore. It’s a big environment, located (back then) in 20+ offices around the globe, where instead of individual decision makers there are often commitees. There’s a snowball effect happening in a lot of areas and changing direction of this big ball isn’t as easy as sending single email written by a software developer based in Warsaw, Poland.

That journey took some time, most probably is still happening and a lot of various emotions were born in the meantime. However some practices were also born that as for today would definetely not allow to send such an email like 7 years ago. In general it’s quite hard not to judge, but through this email I’ll try not to. Not to answer a question if it’s good or bad for an individual or the company whether humbleness is ok or not. An assumption made to the previous sentence is that humbleness is expected from corporate employees. At least from some higher roles.

So a few situations where humbleness is expected yet it’s not a written rule. Promotion without a payrise. Escalation processes. Doing pointless tasks. Attending non-productive meetings. Diplomacy. Not to question decisions from the top of the ladder. Be aware of your position in chain of command. Not to question status-quo too loud. To fullfill procedures – even dumb ones. And so on and so forth.

But stop. Isn’t it conflicting with an expectation of creativity and entrepreneurship ? Difficult question to answer.. Let’s rephrase it from a few different angles:

  • Would successfull business lead by successfull leaders be happening if they would be humble from the start ?
  • Is humbleness helping in corporate career ?
  • Would we be making progress by accepting what is given without questioning ?
  • Would there be no wars if country leaders would be humble ?
  • Would I be able to achieve my dreams if I would be humble all the time ?

Some positive, some negative answers to above questions.

To summarize the post I’ll use two quotes:

The humblest calf sucks the most milk

The humble calf sucks two mothers

Thanks for reading,
Łukasz.

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