This blog was originally posted as “Which is Most Important?” at Successful Successions on September 6, 2019. It seems appropriate for this blog as well. ~ Dennis

Recently I read something that got my attention:  “Team leadership requires an understanding that impact is more important than ego. In American Christianity, especially in the megachurch, the ego needs of the senior pastor are off the charts, including me. Pastors have to let God lower their need for attention. The minute that impact becomes more important than ego, amazing things begin to happen” (Ray Johnston of Bayside Church in CA).  I had to ask myself, which is more important to me?  Impact or ego?  What would your answer be for you?  Impact or ego?  What would others say about me or you?  Impact or ego?

I’m hopeful that most would say that my life reflects a higher value on impact than ego.  In my mid-60’s, it is easier to measure than when you are in your mid-30’s.  For me, there is more of a track record.  More to measure.  Patterns can be noticed.  In other words, I’ve left a trail behind me.  What will people see when you have a long history behind you?  Impact or ego?

I have lost track of the number of times that leaders in business, church and non-profits have said something like this to me, “What you’ve done with your succession plan is so unusual.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”  And, I guess it is.  I didn’t do it to be unique or different.  I didn’t do it because I wanted someone to think I was extraordinary or special. I did it because it just seemed the right thing to do if I wanted to leave the maximum impact through my leadership in the organization that I started. 

I remember well the story that John Ortberg tells about playing Monopoly with his grandmother.  After working super hard to finally beat her and win the game, she said to young John, “It all goes back in the box.  All the cash.  All the properties.  All the accumulations of success.  It all goes back in the box” (here’s a 3 min. video version).  That’s the approach of someone who understands impact over ego.  It all goes back in the box.  

What are you doing in your leadership to maximize your impact?  Let me just suggest.  The greater you hope your impact to be, the more you will have to fight against your ego.  Those two are almost mutually exclusive. You can have great impact and a great ego.  But I would contend, your impact will soar upward in almost direct proportion to your ego going downward.  Humility is the doorway to maximum impact. Think about.  Better yet, work on increasing your impact by decreasing your ego.

Have a great weekend!  

QUESTION: As you reflect on your life, what are your biggest challenges in leaving an impact? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.

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