This Friday, February 27th, will mark the one-year anniversary of my dad leaving this earth.
One year. It hardly seems possible that almost one full year has passed since I received that most sobering of phone calls from my mom.
I still remember the call, where I was, what I was doing, and how surreal life seemed at that moment.
You’ve always had certain people around and you just assume that they will always be around.
As I have told many, no one has influenced me more as a man than my dad.
My family and I have been talking as of late about this being the one-year anniversary of his passing. And as I have been pondering this, a few thoughts came to mind that I would like to share with you as my readers.
I taught in the college arena for 11 years. The classroom was always sort of a sanctuary for me with my students. And as preparing future teachers, one metaphor that I often used was that of a tool belt. As a teacher, I told them that they would be effective as their tool belt was full.
In other words, equip themselves with many types of tools of pedagogy, discussion, and teaching techniques so that they can operate with precision and intentionality in the class room.
Translated: maximize leadership and teaching opportunities by being ready and equipped.
And so it is true of leadership: when all you have is a hammer, you better hope every problem is a nail, but the more tools you have, the more broad is your sphere of leadership and influence. Screwdrivers, tape measures, hammers, pliers, wrenches – all of these in a tool belt just mean that I have the ability to be involved with more opportunities that may come along.
And that is what my dad did for me.
I have not always appreciated or valued it, but my dad equipped me – he helped to fill my tool belt to be effective with people and in how to lead. Not everyone has or has had a dad willing to do that.
Mine did. And I do not say that as if to brag. I say it out of humility and gratitude. I am more appreciative of those tools today.
As I stated in last week’s post, How to Really Surprise People, I emphasized that I primarily lead in order to influence. And that I can truly surprise people by caring for them and investing in them in a meaningful way. People will want to know if you can help them and if they can trust you.
What are you doing as a leader to put more tools into the tool belts of those you rub shoulders with each day? If leadership to you is merely getting “it” done, the tool belts of those you influence are likely containing the same tools that they had prior to working alongside you. Or they may be empty.
But what if one of the primary goals as a leader was to “pay it forward” and equip others around me so that they were more precise and effective in how they interacted with others?
In thinking through this one-year anniversary, here are 5 tools that I have found of value, placed and developed over time by my dad:
- People first, people second, people third. Projects will get done.
- Don’t let the bricks in people’s backpacks go unnoticed. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Ask questions.
- If someone has an issue with you, go and speak with them about it. Now. Get it resolved through face-to-face communication. Don’t wait. Don’t talk with others about it who are not involved. C-O-M-M-U-N-I-C-A-T-E.
- Love others to your own hurt.
- God can change people. Reserve the grace for when it happens.
Now, I did not say I use these tools at every opportune time and use them perfectly. Sometimes I try to use a knife as a screwdriver, and well…I end up cutting myself. But I am learning and realizing that many of the tool belt pouches that I was not paying attention to have tools in them. And they are useful and despite my dad being gone, these tools are not.
I hope that I leave tools behind for others where there were none or perhaps make current tools of more value as I help others use them skillfully.