‘Confident Humility’

This week marks the first time I will be walking into my offices without the presence of my hiring mentor. Nearly eleven years ago, Keith Dunkin saw in me possibility. The possibility that I might have a long lasting career helping to lead the Multifamily space forward. The possibility that I could further the use of data in the space. The possibility that I might provide him the opportunity to not travel 300 days a year (well that last one may have been his wife).

Today he begins a new, incredibly exciting, chapter in his life as he builds his faith based real estate investment group full time. It is an endeavor he has been working years to accomplish and I could not be more proud of him.

But if I am being honest, I am also a bit melancholy. For over a decade now I have been referring to myself as ‘Keith Jr.’ , something I know has always given him a bit of indigestion. So beginnng today there is no more standing behind the legend. No more creeping just offstage. Nope, now is the time to be in the proverbial spotlight. A transition that he has been preparing me for for years and started well before his official departure.

So as I have spent the last several weeks preparing for this life A.K. (‘after Keith’), I’ve reflected on the many lessons I gleened from him and pondered which was the most valuable to me as a professional? There have been literally hundreds but one that has clearly risen to the top is his concept of acting at all times with Confident Humility.

This was a lesson that did not come easily for me. My wife’s first impression of me was that I was “a bit of an arrogant ass”. I was once accused by a previous employer of always being the “smartest guy in room” – and not with an endearing tone mind you. Truth is, it was my way of compensating for a lack of actual confidence.

Fake it till you make it. Imposter Syndrome at it’s best.

I soon learned through Keith’s example how to approach every situation with humility. To treat everyone with a genuine air of grace. How to work a room with dignity and respect for all in his presence. To this day, I have not met anyone who is more genuinely respected and liked in the industry – a function of his own genuiness.

I also learned that there is a difference between humble confidence and confident humility. A subtle but very important one. The difference is where it is centered.

Humble Confidence rests in the ego. It resides in the mind…knowing that you can do the thing…whatever it is. It is an ego that has learned to act quietly and humbly. It exudes an air of quiet self-assuredness. It is not the same as Confident Humility but it was one of my stepping stones to it and usually my recovery spot when I slip from it.

Confident Humility does not rest in the ego but in the heart. It is the sincere desire to put others first and know that by doing so, your goals will also be achieved because your goal is to serve those you are surrounded by. It is exudes an air of competent service. It is an ‘other’s first’ mentality vs. an ‘ego’ first.

So thank you Keith for taking a chance all those years ago. Thank you for your willingness to lean in to me and so many others. Thank you for your past and continued example of living with Confident Humility. It is a lesson that certainly was not lost on me.

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