Oh, you shouldn’t have!!!

I had a funny experience today. While presenting at a meeting about arts advocacy in D.C., I was asked a question about leadership, collaboration, and coordination. I responded that I didn’t think anyone questioned my leadership, or the work that we’re doing, and that certainly our efforts to collaborate are welcomed at every turn. I said that while sort of gazing at the ceiling, and with what i thought was an ironic inflection. When I stopped batting my eyelids and looked around I realized that they assumed I was speaking seriously…. I almost stopped to say,  “just kidding!”,  but thought it might undermine my otherwise flawless presentation. : )

That the folks in the room didn’t assume my humor really does speak to the hyperbole that regularly occurs in these kinds of conversations. I am confident in my leadership of the DC Advocates for the Arts.  But I do still regularly question it, and have it questioned for me, and I don’t think that’s a weakness. I almost wish I was like a Luddite, or Randian protagonist, interested only in my own success, but in fact, I am not.  I hope that my leadership is a part of something larger than myself, and if it is, my leadership is replaceable. To me that is not in conflict with my confidence, professionalism, commitment, or leadership, but it does temper my self-promotion.

Author: Robert Bettmann

Founder of Day Eight, and the DC Arts Writing Fellowship.