A quote from GK Chesterton has always stuck with me.
“One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.”
This analogy can be applied to so many different situations in life but the more I ponder the question of leadership, the more apt it becomes.
We talk about humility being a key trait of an authentic leader. If you’ve reached great heights in your career or business, and you see people below you within the organisation, unless humility is a natural value that resides within you, there is a real danger that you will indeed ‘look down on them’ and see them as being ‘below’ you.
Our language and actions often reflects this view of the world. ‘Climbing the career ladder’, the traditional structure diagram that goes top to bottom, things need to go up the chain for approval.
Nearly 100 years ago, Chesterton was wonderfully describing our ivory towers.
We need to step back and look up together at the grand things in life. I don’t think looking down should play a part in leadership.
Let’s also apply this to our vision. Look up and see a new world – it fulfills you more than looking at the dirt beneath our feet.
For those interested in the beautiful, descriptive writing of Chesterton, here is the full quote that appeared in one of his Father Brown stories.
“Well, his Scotch religion was made up of men who prayed on hills and high crags, and learnt to look down on the world more than look up at heaven. Humility is the mother of giants. One sees great things from the valley; only small things from the peak.” Hammer of God, GK Chesterton.