Can a Great Dane teach us a lesson in achieving greatness?
For most of the last 15 years, a Great Dane has always been a member of our family. Danes are an amazing breed. They are large, beautiful creatures that almost carry themselves with a royal swagger.
Several months after the loss of our last Dane, we decided to add giant paw traffic back to our home. Last weekend an 8-week old blue fawn Dane joined our clan.
It has been fun to watch this 12-pound bundle of soft velvet adjust to being part of our family. For the most part, she has a shy, timid temperament that can often be typical for this breed. However, there are times when her wild puppy side briefly makes an appearance.
What is interesting to watch is her lack of awareness of who she is destined to become. Right now she seems to be an average size for a puppy her age, but there are some signs of greatness in her future. At the moment her front paws seem to be disproportionally large for her small stature. In many areas of her body, her skin looks like a small child is playing dress-up with their parent’s clothes.
In some ways, you might say this little pup suffers from what a Harvard Business Review article refers to as “imposter syndrome.” This syndrome is often associated with individuals who have a hard time accurately seeing themselves for who they really are. These individuals often see themselves as unqualified to be at the level they have or will achieve.
While some argue this syndrome can be detrimental to a leader’s success, Wharton professor and best-selling author Adam Grant sees it differently. In research for his book Think Again, Grant found imposter syndrome often actually drove self-doubting individuals towards achieving greatness. Their doubt actually fueled the drive to work harder to achieve.
Imposter syndrome does not always guarantee the achievement of greatness. Often who you choose to surround yourself with greatly impacts your ability to reach your full potential. Once again this developing pup modeled this concept.
Recently during playtime with another puppy, she was getting pushed around and you could tell she was getting scared. She looked around the room and saw two support options: our 3-year-old son and our 2-year-old German Shepherd. They were both her friends, but only one of them had her complete trust. Without hesitation, she quickly ran between the legs of our shepherd. Once safely between his legs, she started barking with a confidence I had yet to see.
Your “Move-a-Body Friend”
As developing leaders, we all need what Brené Brown refers to as a “move-a-body friend.” The type of friend you can trust with your deepest vulnerabilities in the midst of your darkest trials. The type of friend who encourages you to keep growing even when you doubt your abilities.
When you feel like the world is closing in and you doubt your ability to succeed, reach out to your “move-a-body friend” and regain your confidence.
A Lesson in greatness? Greatness is rarely determined by your surroundings. Greatness is achieved by who you chose to surround you.