50 Shades Of Boring: When Leaders Are Bores

It all looks so sexy. Corporate jets. Dramatic moves. Microphones. When it’s a Cinderella story, it’s even better. It’s easy to romanticize leadership success. To imagine the stroke of genius, the well-timed leap of faith, sitting with the right guy on the plane. No one wants to hear the boring parts, but they’re there. Always.

“The real story is actually probably pretty boring, right? I mean, we just sat at our computers for six years and coded.”
~ Mark Zuckerberg

Sleepless nights figuring it out. Triple checking the deck for the big presentation. Revising the speech 18 times, and practicing 20. Slogging through. The great idea that nobody gets. And the next one and the next.

People reveal their boring once they’ve “made it.’ Then boring becomes an intriguing part of the story. Before that, it’s just, well, boring. Right now, your bosses boss is likely doing something way less cool than you imagine. It’s tedious, but it works. So she invests the time, day after day.

The gymnastics coach has watched her vault 400 times. It’s a yawner, but she’s got potential, so he critiques every move. Tomorrow’s Mark Zuckerberg is revising the code, again. And here you are ___________.

What if you got better at boring?

Practice more. Rehearse that speech 4 more times. Triple check the spreadsheet. Invest in the differentiating monotonous tasks. Correlate the data. Start over. Keep trying.

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

21 Comments

  1. Spot on, K! Great truth, great post. Only my wife knows just how boring I was for the first 10 (ok… 15) years of our married life. There were moments of great fun. The build to here was in fact, quite dull. When I tell folks that I’m a business owner, they act pretty interested. I tell them it’s not as sexy as it is perceived to be, but I wouldn’t trade it. Few can understand my meaning. What I mean is … It’s kinda boring.

  2. Jeremy, Great to see you here. Hope all is well. The building requires real work, some of which is boring, but the growth is exciting… it’s an intriguing mix. Great to have you share your perspective.

  3. This is a great post. I think I’m pretty good at celebrating wins here at our agency. I think I’m pretty good at trying to learn from mistakes, but to celebrate boring mundane tasks that go into success, I hadn’t thought of that, but I will now.

  4. I had to learn the hard way (it’s a theme, you see) that being a leader means not acting like the guys on the movie Wall Street. I wanted all the prestige and perks and what I got was my butt kicked for acting like I was something special.

    Now…I revel in boring it seems 🙂

  5. Wow! For this very reason, I love stopping in here with this group of powerful Leaders who enjoy pondering not only the most difficult challenges but also the simplicity of success. Karin and all, there is something very humble about this post. Boring is so essential to getting things done. Studying, it’s boring, deep reflection, it’s just so boring. How did we make our thoughts on boring, so fun. Hmmm, exactly why I stop in here A LOT!!! Have a great weekend! I hope you find some time to be a little bored too.

  6. Hi Karin, I love the point you make in this post! To be truthful, persistence IS boring! And that’s why so many do not persevere…we’ve become enured to a world that is contstantly stimulating, fast-moving, and full of fun. We’re not encouraged to be boring…which is another word for resilient, persistent, and committed to achieving a goal. But that is real life…the key is to savor those moments that give birth to growth, and those moments are anything but boring!

    • LaRae, Thanks so much. You raise an important point. Encouraging “boring” and sharing how we leverage those “boring” behaviors in our success is so vital. Namaste.

  7. when my kids used to say I am bored.
    I would say FANTASTIC.

    when my colleagues would say I am bored
    I would say WONDERFUL.

    When we are bored, we have an opportunity to look at the mundane things with new perspective if we are bored. we are missing the boat on being introspective and creative.

    being bored is WONDERFUL and FANTASTIC because it gives us a chance to try something new with something old.

    Love this post!

    And I am NOT BORED.

  8. Wonderful post, Karin and one which points to the importance of staying the course even when we aren’t feeling “it”! It might seem boring at the time but we are still fulfilling our goals and continuing down a designated path.

    I actually think that those times of boredom are essential to regrouping as they are often a precursor to innovation.

    Long live boring!!!

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