Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

brown shoes, looking down


I love a story that President Reagan told showing how he learned the need for decision making early in his life. 

When he was a youngboy a kind aunt took him to have a pair of custom shoes made.  The shoemaker asked him if he wanted his shoes to have square toes or round toes, but Reagan couldn’t seem to make up his mind.

“Come back in a day or two and let me know what you decide,” the shoemaker told him. 

But Reagan didn’t go back. 

When the man saw him on the street and again asked him what kind of shoes he wanted, Reagan said, “I haven’t made up my mind yet.”

“Very well,” the man responded.  “Your shoes will be ready tomorrow.”

When Reagan went to pick them up, he discovered that the toe of one shoe was round and the other was square. 

Reagan later said, “Looking at those shoes taught me a lesson.  If you don’t make your own decisions, somebody else makes them for you.”

Are you going to decide to create positive, memorable experiences, or are you going to let first customer (or member) of the day decide for you? 

Are you going to decide serve those around you, or are you going to let the people around you decide for you?

Decide to construct your character through excellent actions, and become your best self.

Remember Today:  YOU MUST DECIDE!


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The Tower of Babel

 1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

 3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

 5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

 8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

In this story from the Old Testament, the people had true unity and a common goal.  They were all working together in the same place, with the same vision.  God himself knew “nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them,” as long as they worked together with a common vision.

Our common purpose at Leaders Credit Union is to serve our members.  Nothing will be impossible for us as long as we all take hold of this purpose and work together to ensure we each serve our members at every opportunity.

What is the “common purpose” at your workplace? 

(Fun Fact: This bible story is where we get the English word “Babble” – to say something rapidly and incoherently)


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Think about all the tasks you have to perform at work.  Many of them are repetitive actions you could do with our eyes closed.  However, many of them require a level of attention and concentration higher than usual.  It is important to know when to block out distraction and focus on the task at hand.

Take the lion for example.  Experienced animal trainers take a stool with them when they step into a cage with a lion. 

Why a stool?

Answer:  It tames a lion better than anything – except maybe a tranquilizer gun.  When the trainer holds the stool with the legs extended toward the lion’s face, the animal tries to focus on all four legs at once.  And that paralyzes him. 

Divided focus always works against you. 

There is a Chinese proverb that states: “When you chase two rabbits, both escape.”  Dividing your focus between several tasks will often result in poor performance on one or all of the tasks.  You may even mimic the lion and become paralyzed. 

Focus on the most important and urgent task at hand, complete it, and move on. 



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There is a story told in Patrick Lencioni’s book Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars that illustrates the power of a common purpose all can be passionate about.

The main character in the story, Jude, is a consultant charged with bringing unity to a divided workforce at a local hotel. The front desk staff is upset with the cleaning staff for not getting the rooms turned around quickly. The cleaning staff is upset at the front desk staff for not letting them know that rooms have been vacated in a timely manner. The restaurant staff is upset with the bell boys for rolling carts in front of restaurant windows, causing noise and an unpleasant view for restaurant patrons. The bell boys think the restaurant staff are overpaid and should get over it. Everyone is frustrated with everyone else. Everyone is self-seeking and hotel guests can feel the tension upon entering the front doors. Definitely not what you want when running a guest service business.

Jude is having trouble coming up with a solution to the division at the hotel when he experiences a life changing event at a local emergency room. Jude’s wife, Amy, is pregnant with twins and begins bleeding one night a few months before her due date. Jude calls an ambulance to rush his wife to treatment. Upon arrival, the EMT immediately begins assessing the situation. They call ahead and let the ER know what to expect. When they arrive at the ER, the security guard helps unload Amy and even holds some IV bags until an orderly can take over. Amy is wheeled into a room to await a doctor. The receptionist noticed that a tray containing examination tools had been knocked over during the process, so she rushes over to get them out of the way so they would not cause an accident. The two nurses treating Amy call out for someone to page Dr. Smith. A member of the janitorial staff who happens to be nearby quickly picks up the phone and calls for Dr. Smith. Dr. Smith arrives a few seconds later and is able to stabilize Amy and the twins with no permanent damage to either.

After the dust had settled and a few days had passed, Jude was able to reflect on his experience. The overwhelming conclusion was this: The sole focus of everyone involved with the event was to make Amy and the babies better. That was it! Job title didn’t matter, education level didn’t matter, and time on the job didn’t matter. What mattered was making the patients better. Everyone was willing to do whatever necessary that would achieve the one focus of making the patients well. A receptionist was doing the job of a janitor, a security guard was doing the job of an EMT, and a janitor was doing the job of a nurse. No one was acting selfishly, but performed whatever job that was required to achieve the common goal of making people better.

A common goal all can believe in and be passionate about changes the way people function in their jobs.

Jude had his solution for the hotel. If everyone at the hotel had the common purpose of ensuring that each guest had a memorable stay, selfishness would cease and unity would be created.

What is the purpose at your organization?

Are you willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve this common goal, even if it is “outside your job title?”

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