Cold Lessons

Another year, another winter, another snow storm. These were the words I spoke to myself as I embalmed myself with layers of clothes to prepare for the tedious work of shoveling snow. I’ve been through this before.

There was one difference this time around. Behind me were the sets of footprints for three small people. My children were ‘helping’ me to clear our walkway and four of our neighbors. Their help made the process much longer. They would help me by scooping snow from the tall mounds and placing it in the empty place that I had just cleared.

I was exhausted from the labor of moving so much snow and I had a decision to make. My decision depended on my perspective. I could view this through the lens of addition:

Me + my kids = me working longer   

Which means…

Me – my kids = me working faster

My other option was was the lens of multiplication:

Me x my kids = four people serving their neighbors (one day in the future)

I chose multiplication.

This reminded me of a truth in leadership. It’s easier to work by yourself. No one gets in the way and you don’t have to wait for someone to catch up. But this perspective has its limits. The end result is that what you’ve started by yourself you will finish by yourself.

Effective leaders don’t attract followers, they develop leaders. Taking the time to invite someone else into the work with you will require patience (sometimes long-suffering) and sacrifices in the present for what’s to be gained in the future. But it’s worth it because the work doesn’t end with us.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” -African Proverb

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