Sunday, December 19, 2010

Don’t Miss the Important Points

The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.
- Walter Lippmann

The story is told of when Orville and Wilbur Wright finally succeeded in keeping their homemade airplane in the air for fifty-nine seconds. The historic event took place on December 17, 1903. Afterwards they rushed a telegram to their sister in Dayton, Ohio, telling her of this great accomplishment.

The telegram read, “First sustained flight today fifty-nine seconds. Hope to be home by Christmas.” Upon receiving the news the sister was so excited about the success that she rushed to the newspaper office and gave the telegram to the editor. The next morning, though, the newspaper headline stated in black, bold letters, “Popular Local Bicycle Merchants To Be Home For Holidays.” The scoop of the century was missed because an editor missed the point.

In these final hours in the countdown to Christmas, most folks are busy trying to complete their shopping, attend a Christmas performance, a candlelight service or mass. A final office gathering will take place and pleasantries will be exchanged. And then family arrives. Are you now feeling the stress of the holidays?

As in the example of the sister and that of the editor of the newspaper, we can be so caught up in the moment that we miss the point of what our lives and work is all about. Here are three points to remember during this season and something to guide you into the beginning of another year.

Every great accomplishment has a small beginning. When the Wright brothers took their infamous flight it lasted 59 seconds. From a 59-second flight in 1903 to supersonic and space flight today, we have come a long way. The advancements within your organization have come about through hard work, determination, and a desire for excellence. Every small step is one closer to something great.

Bruce Barton said, “Nothing splendid has ever been achieved except by those who dared to believe that something inside them was superior to circumstance.” And this is the organizational belief that you must hold true to as you move forward in 2011. Your best days are before you and each one begins small.

Every small victory should be celebrated. Little did the Wright brothers know, nor could they have envisioned what flight would look like more than 100 years after theirs. Yet, for these brothers, it was a day of celebration for their accomplishment. And with that bottled up enthusiasm unleashed, they sent a cable to their sister back in Ohio to share the news.

Stuart B. Johnson said, “Our business in life is not to get ahead of others but to get ahead of ourselves- to break our own records, to outstrip our yesterdays by our today, to do our work with more force than ever before.” And this is your challenge in 2011 - to greet each day with anticipation of new victories and the hope of a better tomorrow.

Every team member needs to be appreciated. The newspaper editor back in Ohio missed the point and the headline was uninspiring. As the leader of your company, take time to daily write the headlines of your organization. Sing the praises of the team who delivered the new account, for the one who faithfully goes the extra mile without complaining, and for all of the creative talent that make you look better than you are.

Thomas D. Bailey said, “Conductors of great symphony orchestras do not play every musical instrument; yet through leadership the ultimate production is an expressive and unified combination of tones.” The production of your team should be celebrated throughout the year as you take small steps to greatness, and as you remember the most important ingredient to your organization – its people.

© 2010 Doug Dickerson

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