Unique Leadership Axiom: Never miss a chance to sharpen your tools.
Bart Simpson says, “So what? Who cares? What’s in it for me?”
SO WHAT? We dealt with that in the last blog post where you learned that the road to becoming a effective leader is paved with focused, intensive nurturing of change.
WHO CARES? On October 30, 2008 I told you how my commanding general made it very, very clear that an officers’ first duty is to make sure that their soldiers are properly cared for. THE COMMANDING GENERAL CARED, he made sure that I cared too.
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME? By now you know that winning is what is in it for you. In the military winning is survival. Institutionally, in business, in government or any other organization winning is the road to promotion.
To know the value of winning, you must also know the consequence of losing. In 1937 at age 5, I began to learn about losing. I lost my father. My family and I lost a middle-class lifestyle. My mother had to support us. From then on I did not see much of her (another loss). In 1937 women were poorly paid for their work so my two brothers had to go to work too. More loss!
It was from many examples set by my family that I learned about losing and about winning. Like the day when my oldest brother got pretty badly beaten by another boy right in front of me. I broke down crying. I said “You lost the fight!” He said “The fight’s not over!” The next day he met the other boy and beat the heck out of him. He looked at me and said “Now the fight is over!”
I grew rapidly as a child. By the time I reached the fifth grade I was 5 foot 8. When you grow that fast, you have the psychomotor coordination of a rock. So, I became the kid that all the athletic boys could bully. More loss and humiliation!
The place where I could compete with these other kids was in the classroom. I learned to study. In spite of the fact that I was partially dyslexic, I was able to excel in the classroom. In the classroom I could drive those bullies into the corner with my mind and with my ability to learn. They made a fool of me on the playground once or twice. I made fools of them in the classroom for the rest of my life.
This was where I first learned that every time I rested I needed to clean my weapons. Of course, I learned by example. My mother, who had been a nurse, sharpened her weapons by reacquiring her RN license. My two brothers, who were in high school, sharpened their weapons by finding work after school.
What was in it for me? I learned that to survive I needed well oiled tools. For the soldier those tools are weapons. For me, my mind is my weapon and my tool.
Ultimately, I entered a prestigious technical University with honors at entrance, graduated with honors and later received three more degrees including a PhD. All of this because: whenever I rested, I cleaned my weapons.
Leader’s Focus: By now you know we cannot win without a team. You should also know that your support comes not only from your team, but from well-maintained weapons. In every field of endeavor, your weapons are your specific professional skills.
My Take on Winning: your weapons are your body, your mind, you will, your spirit and your objectives. Every time you rest, take time to clean at least one of them.
The expectations of life depend upon diligence; the mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.–Confucius