Recently,  I was observing a friend of mine engaged in conversation with someone who was telling her about their latest career success.  The word yardstick popped into my head and I then realized something about my friend.

People really like to share things with her. Perhaps it is because she doesn’t immediately pull out her yardstick and measure the other person’s experience against her own. She doesn’t start talking about something that happened to her. Instead, she listens intently, shares in the experience either by sincerely celebrating the success or offering help and encouragement in the face of difficulty.  She doesn’t need to measure herself against others, she knows who she is.

Watching my friend reminds me of the words of two great women leaders.

In an interview last year with HBR, the 85 year old renowned author Maya Angelou was asked what makes a great leader. She responded that a leader sees greatness in other people, a person can’t be much of a leader if all they see is themselves.

In a recent TEDx talk, Angela Ahrendts, the new SVP of Apple retail spoke of how her father’s voice has guided her over the years. He told her that he would know he had done a great job raising her if, when she looked at a photograph, she saw herself last.

Here’s to getting rid of the yardsticks.