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Karin’s Leadership Articles

The story he shared in a recent workshop I led stopped my heart. We were talking about leadership and “bringing out the best in people,” when John (obviously not his real name) confided, “I’ve never seen anyone do what you’re talking about better than my wife.”

We smiled. “No. You don’t understand,” he continued.  (His eyes got bigger and his posture took on a sincerity that made everyone in the room lean in.) No one expected what came next.

“I was an absolute asshole. If you were to look up bad husbands in Wikipedia my picture would be there.”

I stayed totally still. There was absolutely nothing I could say next that would trump his story.

“I had been such a jerk for so many months. I knew it. She knew it. I was deeply depressed, and not myself. She didn’t complain. She never seemed to take it personally. Although, I can’t imagine how she wouldn’t. We had no money, which made the whole situation even more grim.

Then one day after a lot of long ones, she asked:  “Would you be willing to fully trust me and get up at 3am with me tomorrow and follow me?”

I felt so guilty, I said “Sure.” Even though I found the mere thought exhausting.

She woke me up, blind-folded me and took me sky diving–my top bucket-list adventure. We both knew we couldn’t afford it. But I leaped in. She took pictures and videos. As she played them back, she reminded me, “This is the man I love. This is who you really are. You can be this. You will get there again. I love you.”

Amen.

I’m going to admit right now, I’m not that big of a wife. This would NEVER have occurred to me. I’m in awe of this woman I’ve never met, inspiring a man with enormous potential to be bigger. As he shared his story, his eyes sparkled as they had for the previous two days. He was a ball of vibrant energy and potential. I’d feel lucky to have him on any team I was leading.

Perhaps someone you’re leading right now could use such a generous, humble and confident approach. A second chance to be seen for what’s possible.

P.S. I would love to schedule a free consultation about how I can help your team achieve breakthrough results in 2015.  Click here to download a one-page highlight sheet. karinhurt_One_Sheet

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today!

Want more human-centered leaders in the workplace? Share this today?

21 Comments

  1. Vikram

    Loved this short story about bringing the best out of people. In a way like pygmalion effect.

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Vikram, Great to have you join the conversation. Thanks so much. Yes, I think it’s a lot like the Pygmalion effect.

      Reply
  2. Steve Borek

    Be fully present each and every time they’re in your presence. Give them 100% of your attention. We live in a multitasking world. When you’re not fully present, the other person sees it and feels it. They also think you have no interest in them at all.

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Steve, Excellent addition. Amen.

      Reply
  3. Bill Benoist

    As this man’s wife demonstrated, sometimes all that is needed is to show someone we have the confidence and trust in them. As leaders, we can do this through empowerment and make the environment safe. In the event a mistake happens, perform the autopsy, learn from it and move on.

    What an incredible story. Thank you for sharing, Karin!

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Bill, Thanks so much. I love the idea of “performing the autopsy” and moving on

      Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Bill, Thanks so much. I love the idea of “performing the autopsy” and moving on

      Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Dan, Thanks so much. That means a lot.

      Reply
  4. Lisa Hamaker

    Beautiful! Crying too. Karin, I love that you are secure enough to let others shine through. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Lisa, thanks so much. Always appreciate your contributions

      Reply
  5. Beth Beutler

    Wow. Why are my eyes moist on this one? 🙂 I’ve watched my son skydive two times. What an adventure for this man. What an incredible wife.

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Beth, I don’t think I’d have the stomach to watch my kids sky dive. Yikes!

      Reply
  6. LaRae Quy

    What an inspiring story…and it took guts for this man to admit that he’d been a jerk to his wife.

    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Thanks, LaRae, I agree. Gutsy, man. Inspring wife. Inspiring man.

      Reply
  7. Terri Klass

    I was taken by that story, Karin! It can sometimes take an enormous gesture to help someone see their true gifts.

    Beautiful and inspiring!

    Thanks Karin!

    Reply
    • Karin Hurt

      Terri, So agree. We need more enormous, gutsy gestures out there.

      Reply
  8. Mike Lambert

    Karin

    This is a great story. I’m not surprised by this wonderful wife’s leadership capabilities. My wife has lifted me up more than once. We need cheerleaders in our lives (personal and professional) who can inspire us to be the person they see in us even if we can’t see it for ourselves. I love your blog and its “groundedness”. It’s all real and so useful.

    Reply
  9. Shawn

    Karin,

    Great Story!

    I have been utilizing quite a bit from your conversations in my current role, and I love the positive energy I get from reading your blogs.

    Thanks,

    Shawn

    Reply
  10. Milos

    A truly inspiring display of love, devotion and belief. We all need people who will believe in us unconditionally and we also need to be those people for others. I wish you all an amazing day!

    Reply

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders find clarity in uncertainty, drive innovation, and achieve breakthrough results.  She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.

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