At a recent conference, one of the participants summed up the multitude of emotions that had arisen during the convening and provided a charge for going forward. To do so, he shared Brewer’s poem on the paradoxes of being a servant-leader:

Strong enough to be weak
Successful enough to fail
Busy enough to make time
Wise enough to say ‘I don’t know’
Serious enough to laugh
Rich enough to be poor
Right enough to say ‘I’m wrong”
Compassionate enough to discipline
Mature enough to be childlike
Important enough to be last
Planned enough to be spontaneous
Controlled enough to be flexible
Free enough to endure captivity
Knowledgeable enough to ask questions
Loving enough to be angry
Great enough to be anonymous
Responsible enough to play
Assured enough to be rejected
Victorious enough to lose
Industrious enough to relax
Leading enough to serve

Think about the dichotomies that are outlined in the above poem. Where is your tension? Are you “too much” toward one end of a spectrum and not enough in the middle or on both ends so you can fully embrace the paradox? The goal is to serve and to lead. Take Brewer’s poem to heart and see if it can help you do both.

— as cited by Hansel, in Holy Sweat, Dallas Texas, 1987, p. 29

About the Author leadership dots by dr. beth triplett

Dr. beth triplett is the owner of leadership dots, offering coaching, training and consulting for new supervisors. She also shares daily lessons on her leadershipdots blog. Her work is based on the leadership dots philosophy that change happens through the intentional connecting of small steps in the short term to the big picture in the long term.

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