While wasting time in Youtube I found this video of Shaheen Jafargholi on Britain’s Got Talent 2009. There are 2 leadership lessons I got from it.
The Arrogance of Success
Minute 0:53 – Look at Simon’s face. This is the face of someone that thinks knows the person on stage before the song even starts. He’s so sure the kid is going to fail. It seems like his many years in the show business just tell him the kid is not going to make it.
Arrogance is when leaders let themselves believe their past successes determine they ability to predict the future. Many leaders like to claim they know it all. They know how greatness looks like, who’s going to make and who won’t just by looking at their appearance.
Minute 1:22 – Simon stops the performance and says “You got this all wrong!” He will later claim that he did it to help the kid pick a better song. Really? To me it looked like he expected a disaster and, to him, it sounded like it. When leaders expect failure, all they can see is proof. This is exemplified with Simon being the only one thinking badly about the brief performance.
Confidence in Passion
Minute 1:39 – Shaheen responds calmly with his second song choice. To which Simon still gives the same dismissive look (check the finger at 1:56). It only takes a few seconds to realize this kid is a superstar.
Minute 2:16 – gives the best example of confidence driven by passion. Shaheen’s look of determination is his way of saying “I don’t care what you think, I’ll prove you wrong”.
As leaders, it’s easy to forget how powerful passion can be in a person’s walk towards greatness. When someone is passionate about something they will never describe it as “work”. Instead, they’ll say things like “this is my life” or “this is who I am”. Hence, by allowing passion to drive what they do, not only do they commit to make it happen, they also make it great.
The difference between average and extraordinary isn’t power or money – its heart.” – Dan Rockwell
Arrogance Strikes Back
During the great performance you can see Simon changes his disapproval with an “I knew you could do better!” smirk declaring to himself how he found greatness and was right all along. He couldn’t admit he was wrong in the first place.
Maybe he knew all along and it was just great acting and setup. You be the judge. In the end, when your time comes, will you use success to judge or add value to someone?