After years of toiling in obscurity you find yourself in a position of power and influence. After years of never being heard you’re now being sought out.
You waited a long time for your day in the sun. Now that it’s arrived, how do you handle your change in fortune?
When the limelight shines on you, don’t let it blind you.
Even though the limelight is now shining on you, remember that only recently you were in darkness. When you were struggling, you probably worked hard to keep things in perspective and to maintain healthy self-respect. Lacking power and authority didn’t mean you were less valuable than other people.
Now you need to work just as hard to hold onto that sense of perspective. You’re still the same person. Having power and authority doesn’t make you better than everyone else. If you try to act like you are better, you’ll likely lose people’s respect — and with it, you’ll lose your power and authority.
Finally, it’s not for nothing that there are so many quotations and proverbs about the need for humility: For pryde goeth before and shame commeth after (John Heywood). Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:14).
Be a servant leader
Having been down in the trenches for so long, you have a unique perspective. What did you wish your managers had done for you? What did you wish they knew about you?
Now you can put into practice the things you wanted from your old managers. Now is your chance to become, in the words of Robert K. Greenleaf, a servant leader: a servant first, a leader second.
Say things that are worth hearing
At long last, people are listening to you. It wasn’t easy to get their attention; it’s even harder to hold onto it. Don’t waste your opportunity by saying things that are self-serving, manipulative, or deceptive.
These thoughts were prompted by two baseball teams — the Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians — who’ve just qualified for the World Series and who’ve gone a very long time since winning their last championships (1908 and 1948, respectively).
Over the next few days the Cubs and the Indians will try to make the most of the opportunity they have. After decades in the darkness, they’re in the limelight. I can’t wait to see how they’ll respond.
What about you? Did you ever find yourself in the limelight after years in darkness? What did you do with your opportunity?