Faster Horses

“If I would have asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses’”
Henry Ford

Henry Ford and Faster HorsesWhat a great quote!  And what a great insight into a key leadership trait.  The business community is all about collaboration these days.  And I believe in collaboration.  But, sometimes, a true leader, an innovator like Henry Ford, needs to see far beyond what those around him see.

He didn’t give people what they wanted because they really didn’t know or couldn’t verbalize their need.  Instead, Ford forged ahead and created something that changed the world.  He gave us the first mass produced and affordable automobile.  He gave us mobility and a whole new way of producing goods that had never been employed to that extent before.

And, by the way, it was faster than most horses out there.  Think about that today.


Photo credit: brizzle born and bred / / CC BY-NC

Am I getting old?

John StromanI remember when my father-in-law was alive.  His name was John.  But he was known to us as “Grandaddy”.  He was a great man.  He was a smart man.  Better yet, he was a wise man.

I have only recently lived anywhere close to where my own father lives.  And we have lived close to my father-in-law for many years, so I have often gone to my father-in-law with questions that a young husband or father would normally take to his own father.  John was older.  John was wiser.  — I think those two things just might go hand-in-hand.

I noticed several years ago that some younger men were starting to come to me for advice from time to time.  Some of them just wanted to bounce their ideas off of someone.  It sort of just began happening over time.  I didn’t seek it out.  It just started occurring.   This is a troubling realization!

Then it hit me.  They were Continue reading “Am I getting old?”

Mohatma Gandhi – A Quiet Leader

Mohandas GandhiHe was born October 2nd, 1869 and he was assassinated on January 30th, 1948.  He was more commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi and he was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. He employed exclusively non-violent civil disobedience as a means to influence his followers and his opponents alike.  Gandhi led India to independence and, as a result, he inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.

Gandhi became famous by Continue reading “Mohatma Gandhi – A Quiet Leader”

Financier, Friend or Father — Part Three

father-son-13_lIn parts one and two we looked at two of the many roles that a father plays.  We looked at him as financier where he has a role in being a provider for the family.  But we saw that being a provider is not what our family needs from us the most.  We then looked at his role as a friend and how hard it is to be something much more than our child’s buddy.  In this, our last installment of the series, I want to explore the most important role that a man will play in life and his relationship to his children.

Father – “Father knows best.”

>Boy, I really wish this last statement were true 100% of the time.  We all know it isn’t.  But at the end of the day, we are responsible.  President Harry S Truman said, “The buck stops here.”  And the “buck” of responsibility stops with the father.  Another way of looking at it is this.  “We may not always be right, but we are always the parent.”  And we need to act accordingly.  We need to step up and make the tough decisions.  We need to make decisions that may be unpopular with our children.  And we will make some bad decisions.  And when we make a bad decision or a mistake, we need to acknowledge it.  Our children will not lose respect for us when we admit a mistake.  In fact, the opposite is true.  They will come to respect us even more by seeing that we love and respect them enough to acknowledge when we have failed them.Father and Son Blurred

I think homes in America today are places of “Fatherhood Vacuums”.  Divorce has ravaged our families, our homes and our society.  And so often, Mom has had to step in to fill the void left by an absent father.  There can even be fatherhood voids in homes where the father still remains.  How tragic is that when a father is present physically but absent emotionally?

So what is my point today? 

My point is this.  Is it my role primarily to provide for the needs of my family if possible?  Absolutely!  But that is not the most important role that I have.  Is it my role to be a friend to my children and build a relationship of closeness and camaraderie?  Absolutely!  But of the three roles, financier, friend and father, being a real father is the most important of them all.

Go be a “father” today!

Photo credit: Thomas Leuthard / / CC BY
Photo credit: Tojosan / / CC BY-NC-SA

Accessible or Aloof

AloofReading Michael Hyatt’s blog early this morning I saw his recounting of a podcast by Andy Stanley, a well-known pastor in the Atlanta, GA metropolitan area. Andy Stanley is of the opinion that the greater or higher the level of leadership that a person reaches, the less accessible they must make themselves.

Andy Stanley is quoted as saying:

“The harsh reality of leadership is that the more successful we are, the less accessible we become. As things grow and as more people become involved, a leader can’t be equally accessible to all people. So then we are faced with the dilemma of who gets my time and who doesn’t, when do they get it, and how much of it do they get.”

l sort of equate that to the movie star who becomes famous by making movies.  And then they go on countless TV interviews to become even more famous.  And then they complain because they never have any privacy.  Does that sound familiar?

l would submit to you that the things that made a great leader great are the same things that will keep them great. And one of those things is accessibility and approach-ability.  Every person needs a certain amount of privacy and down time. And as followers we need to recognize and respect that.  But I don’t see a significant reason for someone to become markedly less accessible in order to become more effective.

Absence, or aloofness, doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. It makes the heart wander. And the opposite of accessible could be defined as aloof. And who thinks that is a leadership trait?

Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense

Diseased HandThe story of Naaman has an interesting leadership lesson for us today. Naaman was the commander-in-chief of the ancient Syrian army. He was a man with both position and power. By all earthly standards, Naaman was a recognized leader: he had worldly abilities, fame, respect and authority.

However, Naaman had a really big problem. He had leprosy. In that day and time, leprosy was an awful incurable disease. It required total isolation from everyone for fear of spreading the dreaded disease. And it is really hard to be a leader when you have to be isolated from everyone that you are leading.

Can you just imagine for a few minutes Continue reading “Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense”