This is the story of Colin Jenkins. Never heard of him? Well, that’s because Colin, in spite of having made a huge contribution to Canada’s Olympic effort in Beijing in 2008, prefers it that way.
Colin Jenkins is an athlete in his own right. But, instead of working for himself, he chose to partner with Simon Whitfield, a Canadian Triathlete, with the sole purpose of helping Simon win an Olympic medal for Canada in the 2008 games.
Rick Hansen calls Colin Jenkins a Difference Maker. Here is his story. (the clip begins with an annoying advertisement but I hope you’ll hang in there. It’s worth the look)
Colin’s story reminds me of the vital role humility can play in leading a business organization. It also tells me that if there is one Colin, there have to be many more like him, quietly working away, not for the glory, but for the pleasure of being part of something great, something much bigger and more important than themselves.
For some of us, this is hard to imagine. After all, the human ego being what it is, those who rejoice in the achievement of a collective goal with no expectation of personal accolade seem quite rare. But is this the case really? Or is it that we are just not looking for these “No glory, all guts” people? Or, really seeing them?
Perhaps it is that we have to stop once in a while and purposefully consider the difference makers in our own lives and organizations. The question is, how will we recognize them when we come across them, these quiet leaders whose uniform is more Diana Prince than Wonderwoman or Clark Kent than Superman?
Well, maybe we simply have to look for the clues. What kind of clues? Well, I’m not entirely sure because I rather think difference makers come in many forms. But perhaps we might start by paying some attention to those who:
- Are generally quiet but not hesitant to speak clearly and succinctly when they see an opportunity to contribute.
- Show enthusiasm for group projects and encourage and support the efforts of others without fanfare.
- Consistently show up and stay the course even when the going gets tough
- Boast about, and celebrate, team accomplishments while downplaying their own.
- Are not reluctant to admit their individual limitations, in service of ensuring the job gets done.
- Value learning as a tool for ramping up their ability to make a meaningful contribution
There are others, of course. But the point is, humility by its very nature lives quietly. That doesn’t mean it should go unrecognized. People who lead from behind, or from within, do indeed make a difference. I like that Rick Hansen chose to feature Colin Jenkins in his Difference Maker Series. I expect Colin is very pleased by it too. But, I doubt that he will allow it to swell his head because, it seems, he just isn’t made that way.
That’s what I think anyway. What do you think?
P.S. For some reason some people have not been able to access the video. I’m hoping this link will work. Click here