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How to avoid becoming a one lens leader

Cultivate humility to frame the picture of your company’s future.

Business leaders craft a different kind of picture — one in which our company makes the world a better place. Photo by Monoar on Pixabay.

“The best camera is the one you have with you.” — Chase Jarvis

This phrase popularized the idea that an average camera you have with you is better than an amazing camera you left somewhere else. When creative genius strikes, capture it. Don’t skip taking the photo because it would be better with your “professional” setup you left at home.

But, what if we actually just need to be better prepared?

The wedding photographer rarely shoots an entire wedding on her iPhone.

The sports photographer doesn’t capture the pivotal, mid-air catch while awkwardly holding his tablet over everybody else’s head.

There’s an almost dizzying array of options a photographer can use to achieve the shot they want.

An eagle soaring high on the cliffs? A telephoto lens.

The vast and deep Grand Canyon? A wide-angle lens.

A water droplet gracefully resting on the petal of a small flower? A macro lens.


Business leaders are photographers who craft a different kind of picture. The picture we frame is a future in which our company makes the world a better place.

Like the professional photographer, we need to show up with the tools of our trade.

Effective leaders are great at connecting, learning, and being confident. These things often cause us to begin relying more and more on our own knowledge and experience. And when that happens, we start limiting ourselves to a single lens — our own view of the scene before us. After all, isn’t it better to “just take the picture”?


But what if all your pictures look the same? Imagine what a soaring eagle in the distance looks like when you try to capture it with a close-up lens.

Humble leaders understand that other people bring unique gifts and talents to the scene. These people are often better at things the leader thinks he should be the best at doing. In contrast to people rising levels of self-reliance, humble leaders view the expertise of others as an asset — not a threat.

Humility, it turns out, is the thing that allows truly effective leaders to pick the right lens for the picture they want to capture. When you assemble the camera with the right lens for the job, you will get results beyond what you could have imagined.

Having a bunch of different lenses isn’t the same as using the right lens at the right time. Humble leaders actually put the lens on the camera so it can do the work it was made to do.

They’re more successful in the long run because they show up with a better camera.

Need a clear view of things further out on the time horizon? Connect some “telephoto” thinkers who will test your assumptions and help frame up the long-term future.


Need a panoramic view of things? Connect some “wide-angle” thinkers who will help bring clarity to your near-term plans.


Need to drill down into tactical details? Connect some “macro” thinkers who will get you close to the root causes and solutions to your needs and challenges.


Will you be a leader who grabs the business equivalent of a cell phone camera to frame a compelling picture of the future?

Or, will you equip yourself — like a professional photographer — with a well rounded set of corporate lenses to help you create vibrant pictures that motivate everyone who sees them?

Find amazing people who complement and extend your skills. Avoid becoming a one lens leader!


Paravelle offers executive coaching services to founders and CEOs with big growth goals. It's a crucial support structure that helps leaders avoid the negative results that come from being lonely at the top.

We might be a good fit to work together if you're:

  • at the create (<1M ARR), build ($1-3M ARR), or grow ($3-5M ARR) stage,

  • curious and looking for ideas and answers, and

  • ready to invest in working with a collaborator that brings a co-founder's perspective (without losing half your equity).

Let's chat!


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