If you want to build a ship…


if you want to...

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea“.   Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

That’s a great way to build things.  Help people catch the same vision you have.  People will work much harder to achieve a dream than they will for almost any other reason.  Most people are looking for vision they can pour their heart into.  Give them a reason to do that.

Too many leaders expect their people to work just for money.  They just drum up people to collect wood and assign them tasks.  They never connect the mission and vision of the organization to each person’s work and role.  Wise leaders do this and we can all learn to do better.

Here’s a few first steps:

  1. Know what your vision is.  It’s pretty hard to teach others to long for the endless immensity of the sea when you don’t long for it yourself.  Know why you’re there and what the purpose of your work is.  Learn what your best customers think of your offerings and what the history is.  Clearly define the vision in just a few words so it can be easily memorized and repeated.
  2. Keep you passion up.  It’s easy to let our excitement wane for our jobs when we’re focused on the details of serving our customers.  Have a pep rally with yourself daily to renew your commitment for the vision.  Make it obvious so those around you can see that you’re the most passionate one in the organization about ship building.
  3. Share your vision.  Keep talking about the exotic places the sea connects us with.  Paint visual pictures for people how they can go places they’ve never been before and see things they’ve never seen before.  And become people they’ve never been before.  Take time with people, listen to their dreams  and share how you see them succeeding.  Keep reminding others about the vision and how important it is to attain that vision.  Be an advocate for the ideal.

I know a man who was the leader of  a small organization not too long ago.  Every time he spoke he talked about the vision of the organization.  It became a joke really that every time he stood up to speak, everyone knew what he would talk about.  But the man was a genius.  That constant message about the future of the organization and how everyone would share in the bounty created enormous energy in that company.  I saw his people gladly perform extraordinary feats for him and thank him daily for the chance to be with him on his journey.  And you know what? I never heard him drumming up people or assigning tasks and work.  He just kept teaching them about something endless and immense…

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