Tomb Raider

Gerwig 2013-10-09

Exotic forests. Ruins. Monkeys. Unknown dangers. Treasure… This is the stuff of legends. Mystery. Adventure. Indiana Jones. If you’re like most people, you love this type of thing. Maybe you watch movies about searching for treasure. Or the fountain of youth. Maybe you watch shows about adventure on cable. Discovery. History Channel. National Geographic.

As a kid, I loved Mutual of Omaha’s “Wild Kingdom” and I loved all the Jacques Cousteau specials. They were full of adventure. Wild animals. Exotic locations. People talking in accents. Adrenaline. Wow! How cool is that!

If you saw the movie Tomb Raider, you may recognize the scene above. It’s actually taken from some ruins in Siem Reap, Cambodia. There are thousands of old temples and ruins in Cambodia. Some have been reconstructed. Some may not have been discovered. Who knows, maybe you’ll be the one to find discover a “new” temple hidden deep beneath layers of overgrown vines and jungle foliage. At least one has been purposefully left in its ruined form.

Pictured above and featured in Tomb Raider, this was my favorite ruin. There was a feel of adventure and mystery to it. Trees and vines twisted in and out of the ruins. Rock upon rock. Carving upon carving. It was a jig-saw puzzle in some areas. I appreciated the Cambodian authorities leaving this temple as it was discovered. Left alone. A testament to the days gone by.

If the world-traveler or tourist goes to Siem Reap and spends time visiting the ruins or the museums, it is readily apparent that there is national pride in this era of Cambodian history. You can sense it and you can see it. As a foreign visitor, I appreciated their sense of pride. This is a healthy sense of pride.

Yes, there is a place for pride. If it’s positively motivated and not taken to an extreme, pride can positive. Pride in your kids. In your spouse. In a job well done. Pride has its place in health organizations and in world-class leaders. Yet there is also a negative type of pride. A pride that gets in the way. That hampers learning. That puts others down. That exaggerates our own success. That is, generally, a hindrance to organizational and personal excellence.

Though an arrogant or proud person can achieve high levels of performance on an individual basis, a proud leader has no place in a world-class organization. A world-class leader puts others first, serves others, asks questions, doesn’t put on pretenses and doesn’t put their personal agenda ahead of the organization.

You can probably give countless examples of people in positions of leadership who put themselves first. Who won’t ask questions because they’re afraid they’ll look bad. Who believe they’re the smartest. Most important. Most creative. Most insightful. Etc, etc, etc.

You probably know that pride often stems from insecurity. The person who puts on airs and acts like they’re perfect is, more likely than not, insecure and lacking true, authentic, confidence. The pride is a type of armor hiding their insecurities.

Are you willing to be different? Are you willing to swim upstream? To be a difference-maker? To serve others? To demonstrate humility and vulnerability? It’s ok to ask questions. To NOT know all the answers. To have bad days. To be human.

If you demonstrate a healthy balance of positively motivated pride and confident humility, you’ll stand out. People will notice. People will gravitate to you. You’ll be able to lead via service. You’ll be able to accept people as they are. You’ll be able to make a difference by helping others succeed. You’ll be able to share the credit. You’ll be able to stand tall as a true leader.

Healthy, positively motivated pride—absolutely! Self-centered, arrogant pride—no way! You can see through people’s veneer. If a person in a leadership position is proud and putting themselves before the organization, you know it. Right? If a true leader demonstrates that delicate, but strong, balance of humility and confidence, you know that too. Right?

Develop your confidence. Develop your competence. But don’t neglect developing the healthy humility. World-class leadership isn’t about proud individuals and personal accolades. It’s about service to others. It’s about sustainable excellence. It’s about a healthy organization. A proud individual may look good for season, but a humble leader who serves others delivers results that stand the test of time. Their organizations and results look good over the generations.

What kind of leader are you? How do you personally balance humility and confidence? What results have you experienced in organizations led by individuals full of self-pride? What results have you experienced in organizations led by humble leader? Servant leaders?

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]


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