I’m not a parent, but I did teach junior high for eight years, and I’ve been a manager of people now for some time. But the sentiment I’m after here should apply across parenting, management, and teaching: Parents should theoretically hope their children surpass them in skill, knowledge, salary, and more. I’ve always hoped the same for my students and directs, and I hope they, in turn, go on to influence others to even greater success.
It should be our goal as managers and directors to get our directs operating at our level as quickly as possible so we can go on to do other things (yes, even if that sometimes means leaving the company or switching roles). I realize this is uncomfortable, but it comes with the territory. Our job is to get the very best out of our people. And sometimes that means they take our place or surpass us.
Here’s the thing: for most jobs, there’s no secret sauce that can’t be taught. There’s no magic in me. I’m not a genius. I’m just a person who worked hard, read a lot of books, had good mentors, and was given great opportunities. I may have just been in the right place at the right time. And my job now is to pay it forward by passing all of that on to others. But I can’t do that if I’m worried about my rep more than I’m worried about my people.
Ego is the enemy
One of my favorite books is Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, and that’s because it’s a gut-punch of a reminder of how our egos can destroy us. They really, really can. And if we’re not in the business of killing pride, it will most certainly start to work at killing us and everything we care about.
Ego is the thing that turns success into failure and a win into a terrible loss. And so the truly remarkable thing is not simply to attain success. Lots of people can do that. The remarkable thing is to not allow arrogance, pride, and ego to flood our sensibility and sobriety. The remarkable thing is to attain success and to remain successful by remaining teachable, humble, and sober-minded, putting others before self.
And there’s no better place to start doing that than with your own employees. Give them the opportunity someone gave you. Give them what you didn’t have that you wish you had. Model what it looks like to continually level up and learn new things. Teach them what it takes to push through to the next phase. You’ll both be better for it.
What about you? Who in your past was a champion for your success, and what are you doing to pay that forward?