03-17-15Action without vision is only passing time; vision without action is merely daydreaming; but vision with action can change the world.
–Nelson Mandela

Shad, an electrician general foreman for a SW Washington contractor, told Session 7B of the Leadership Development Lab,

“At session 3, when we were challenged to apply five times more enthusiasm to some postponed project, I racked my brain trying to think of where and how. What would a deserving project be for applying more ‘commitment in action,’ more enthusiasm? I went home and talked to my family about it, and my teenage daughter, in all her wisdom, said, ‘Dad, you’re always telling everybody else what to do, but you never do it yourself.’ She thought I should ‘say less and do more.’

“The next day at work, I decided to take her advice. In the middle of the mill shutdown we were working on, I started picking up unused tools, putting them back in the jib box or hanging them in their designated locations. I picked up the garbage that just seems to keep coming. I sorted the leftover job materials into materials that can be used on future jobs and stuff to be recycled. When the rest of the crew noticed what I was doing, they started doing the same. At the end of the day, the job site was cleaner and safer than it was when the shift began, and I could see the crew was proud of what they’d done.

“The lesson I learned from this experience is that if I lead by example, others will naturally follow.

“The action I call you to take is be willing to take the first step when you want your team to take action. Don’t just tell them; show them. Your example will inspire the actions you need to see more of.

“The benefit you will gain is others will join in, work will get done, morale will improve, and you’ll spend less time pointing your finger.”

Shad’s story, in addition to reminding us that our actions speak more loudly than our words, also points out another truth: we’re pretty much the same people at home that we are at work. Shad’s daughter observed something in her dad at home that was also true at work. To his credit, he listened, learned, and adjusted his style of leadership on the job. I’m betting he also made some adjustments at home.

Becoming an engaging leader requires becoming more self-aware, expanding your awareness of others, learning better ways of communicating, and turning vision into reality through action. It’s the kind of growth that’s life-changing, impacting all our relationships and, ultimately, our world.

Where can you apply five times more enthusiasm? How will you put your commitment into action? How will you change your world?