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The Most Talented People Often Hide in Shadows

Being humble, in the golden age of self-promotion, is not in fashion. Knowing how to sell yourself, especially on social media, has almost become an automatic habit for many people.

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Photo by David Werbrouck on Unsplash
Photo by David Werbrouck on Unsplash

It is often said that the uber-talented and successful professionals avoid being under the limelight, having media constantly buzzing about them and the secrets of their spectacular lifestyle. Despite having massive
accomplishments and mouthwatering net worth, these people do not brag or constantly document themselves going about their lives, in the most ridiculously elite fashion. We have examples in tech, education, Hollywood, sports, and healthcare. We have learned that some of these individuals are even scared of their full potential and prefer to remain under the radar. We especially bring you an example of Leonard Achan, who has sealed myriad accomplishments to his name, being an entrepreneur, healthcare executive, and artist. This is a curious individual who I stumbled upon after watching a fireside chat  with him in August of 2020.

Being humble, in the golden age of self-promotion, is not in fashion. Knowing how to sell yourself, especially on social media, has almost become an automatic habit for many people. That ‘self-talk’ is also a requirement in certain professions, even those that until recently benefited from keeping a low profile. This is the case of writers, who for the most part, and especially in the case of newcomers, find that having social networks with numerous committed followers is almost an obligation if they want to be published by a publisher.

What then is humility? Research suggests that humble people have a reasonably accurate view of themselves, are aware of their mistakes and limitations, are open to receiving other points of view, keep their achievements and abilities in perspective, are not overly self-centered, and they can appreciate the value of everything, including that of others.

All these virtues that tend to be conspicuous by their absence in social networks, in which the self is imposed on everything else and in which personal achievements, even if they are as bland as having a latte in I do not know what fashionable place, no they are no longer shared as everyday trophies.

In the case of Achan, he is most notably known as a veteran healthcare executive and currently the President of the Innovation Institute at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City. Prior to assuming this role, Achan served as their Chief Innovation Officer a position he held since 2016.

Prior to this, he ventured into a number of C-suite executive roles. Achan served as Chief Communications Officer and Chief of Access Services of the Mount Sinai Health System as well as a Senior Associate Dean of the Icahn School of Medicine,  where he worked his way from a nurse to becoming one of the youngest rising professionals the organization ever had, becoming a assistant dean and vice president and officer in his 20’s and being promoted nearly a dozen times before being recruited away . He is also the board member of private and nonprofit organizations, such as the Board of Trustees of Help USA, Adelphi University, Federation of Organizations, The Hagedorn Little Village School, and is the chairman of Inalienable Rights.

We are talking about a man who spent the last 20 years professionally building a noteworthy global reputation, accumulating executive, academic, and clinical healthcare experience in a variety of leadership roles and is seen as a unorthodox leader, strategist, innovator and operator. His background spans clinical, operational, digital, strategic planning, marketing and communications, branding, venture investing, innovation and business development but goes beyond healthcare as we have seen him advise media moguls and business leaders and politicans. He is even a Senior Naval professor in the Philippines where he has taught strategy to the military.

In his entrepreneurial pursuits, Achan co-founded the Quality Reviews, Inc. and currently serves as its chairman. He has been a recipient of a number of accolades crediting his clinical excellence and civil service leadership. To date, Leonard Achan has received the William H Barfoot Award, the highest honor given by the New York State Troopers. In 2020, he received the Award of Distinction, the highest honor given by the Healthcare Leaders of New York of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE). 

That’s not all; Achan is widely covered in publications and cited in articles published on Newsday, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, and The Harvard Business Review. So who is he, where did he come from and what should we learn from this example.

Having star-studded accomplishments, Leonard Achan is still a man who many say is the same person he was since he was a kid, still takes the back door, meets and greets people with the same smile, always picks up the phone and never refuses a handshake or maybe an elbow pump these days. It is an aspect of truly successful people, and in the next part, we shall explore what rewarding benefits does it bring:

1. Better relationships

Various studies suggest, for example, that humble people take much more care of their relationships, perhaps because they are capable of accepting others as they are. As a result, they are much more likely to repair and create strong bonds with others. And taking care of relationships is taking care of yourself and your health.

2. Better leadership

Humble people make better leaders too, and humility and honesty are good predictors of an employee’s job performance.

3. Less anxiety

Being humble is also a guarantee of serenity, as several studies have indicated that people with calm egos suffer less anxiety.

4. Greater self-control

Perhaps because they also know and accept their limits better, and because they are less obsessed with themselves, humble people also have a greater self-control capacity. Paradoxically, some studies link excess ego and narcissism with a lower ability to control one’s impulses.

5. More personal and spiritual quality

When we meet someone who radiates humility, we immediately feel good, perhaps because we feel seen, heard, and accepted just as we are by their side. Truly humble people – not those who only seek to appear so – can give this gift to others because they can also see and accept their strengths and limitations, without judging or becoming defensive.

6. Life as a school

Humble people see life as a learning opportunity for everyone, recognizing that, although no one is perfect, we can all work on our limitations and open ourselves to receiving new ideas, advice, or criticism. The humble person never stops learning precisely because he is permeable and does not consider himself above anyone.

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