Be self aware and embrace humility; leadership advice from Chris Myers writing for Forbes.
It’s difficult to read about the ongoing saga of Martin Shkreli, hedge fund founder and pharmaceutical CEO, without feeling the overwhelming need to take a shower. Shkreli first burst onto the scene earlier this year when his company Turing Pharmaceutical acquired the rights to the AIDS drug Daraprim and hiked the price of the medication by 5,000%, from $13.53 per dose to $750.
Many thought that the story would end there, but alas that wasn’t the case. On December 17th, 2015, Shkreli was arrested in New York and charged with securities fraud. The news was met with widespread coverage as people took a certain pleasure in Mr. Shkreli’s legal woes. Shkreli’s public persona was so abrasive and controversial that it was only a matter of time before it caught up with him. Entrepreneurs and leaders can learn a lot from this situation. In short, Google had it right: Don’t be evil.
Work towards self-awareness
One thing I noticed about Mr. Shkreli was the amazing lack of self-awareness he demonstrated when dealing with the media. I’ve found that this is a trait that most people who behave badly (in any capacity) have in common. More often than not, the perpetrators of aggressive or tone-deaf actions are motivated by subconscious drivers and fail to understand the damage they cause to their relationships and organizations. On the flip side, when individuals are self-aware enough to recognize their mistakes, people tend to be pretty forgiving.
The first step towards self-awareness is to recognize and be open about the things that cause stress, anxiety, and negativity in your life. From there, it’s possible to accept that sometimes you’re just plain wrong. One of the most admirable and useful traits for entrepreneurs is the ability to admit your mistakes and move forward.
No one likes dealing with egomaniacs. There are few things as off-putting as people who view themselves as being better than others or above the rules. I should know, I’ve been guilty of this myself. In my early twenties, I had a fair bit of success in my career and was pretty proud of myself. As I’ve discussed before, my father (a successful businessman in his own right) took me aside and encouraged me to remain humble. “Everybody falls down at some point,” he told me, “stay humble so that the people around you want to help you up, not knock you back down.”
My father’s words stuck with me and continue to ring true. Embracing humility helps ensure that people are inclined to build you up when you fail, not revel in your misfortune.