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To The Green And The Gray: Do This One Thing

Over the last few weeks I’ve been talking about the Green and the Gray. I believe there is a gap in many businesses between these two groups, but they both very much need each other. Their companies need them to need each other.

The Gray need the tenacity and new perspective of the Green. The Green need the wisdom and experience of the Gray. A company that gets both sides working together will be able to truly get around the idea that everything is marketing now.

If there’s any single thing that both the Green and the Gray need in order for this to work it’s humility. Yes, humility. Be humble. I know that doesn’t sound as buzzworthy as ideation or authenticity or dare I say, synergy, but if you have humility you get all of that.

What Humility Does

Humble people lower their guard. Humble people assume they don’t necessarily have the best answer. Humble people don’t feel the need to defend themselves immediately. That means they listen to someone’s point of view. It also means they’re humble enough to consider that you could actually make a good point or contribute to their idea. People of every generation struggle with this. We always think our ideas are better…particularly motivated and smart people.

Just yesterday I was talking about marketing with the lady who cuts my hair. I’ve known her for years. She’s smart, business savvy and was asking good questions. At one point she remarked that my previous comment didn’t make sense. To be honest, I could feel myself getting defensive. I listened to her feedback and realized she was right. I wasn’t being clear. It didn’t make sense. In that moment I had to fight the pride of wanting to be right and assuming I’m saying something that makes sense rather than be humble enough to consider that I wasn’t. I’ll have another moment like that today. Probably several.

You Should Struggle With Humility

Just like you I struggle to be humble but I’d rather struggle with it than not. If you don’t struggle with humility you have either mastered it or you don’t care. I’ll go out on a limb and say none of us have mastered it, therefore if you don’t struggle with it you’re not even thinking about it. It’s not on your radar. That’s a problem.

The Green need to be humble enough to realize that just because an idea gets shot down doesn’t mean it’s a personal attack or that their idea is bad. Maybe their idea is bad. Maybe the timing is bad. Maybe there’s an entire set of circumstances going on behind the scenes that makes their good idea not work right now. Humble people press in and press on.

The Gray need to be humble enough to listen to someone half their age with a fraction of the experience. They really do have something to offer. They really do have perspective you don’t have and that perspective is more fitting and applicable to your business than you may think. Humble people press in and press on.

Press In. Press On.

Regardless of your color you’re going to have awkward moments, tension or situations when you don’t feel like you’re being respected the way you deserve to be. Humble people press in and press on.

You press into a situation by digging in further. So your idea got shot down. So what? Are you going to get mad and go back to your desk and grumble the rest of the day or go talk to the person after the meeting and calmly ask them to help you understand. That’s pressing in.

Pressing on means that even if the answer you get about why your awesome idea was shot down isn’t satisfactory, you’re going to press on. You’re going to keep doing good work. You’re going to step up with another awesome idea next time. You’re humble enough to live with the fact that you still think your idea is awesome but for reasons beyond your comprehension it’s just not going to happen. Maybe the next one will. Maybe next time you’ll present it differently or bounce it off a few people before the meeting or gather more information ahead of time. That’s pressing on.

The world of business has changed. Good companies realize that everything is marketing now even the culture within their company. A culture of humble people working together for the same purpose is a great place to work. Humility turns good companies into great companies…and that’s just good marketing.

Photo credit: “A Very High Five” by Michael Greening via Flickr

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  • Cindy

    Terrific thoughts. Thank you Bill! Bringing in different perspectives
    from varied generations and backgrounds can’t help but enrich, deepen,
    stretch and strengthen us, if we have the humility to receive it – as
    you said so well.

    • http://microexplosion.com Bill Seaver

      Thanks for the comment Cindy. You model this mindset very well!