It’s not uncommon for me to say, “I’d rather hire someone who will ask for forgiveness than someone who must ask for permission before taking action.” If you’re going to accomplish anything in life, you must be willing to act. And when you do, things don’t always turn out exactly as you would like. Sometimes you must step back, alter your course, and try again. But give me the person who is prone to action. It’s like the great race car drivers say, “To finish first, you must first finish.” And to finish, you must get off the starting line.
I recently wrote about servant leadership, mentioning that it has long been a concept that intrigues me. I used as an example—in part because of his recent passing—Truett Cathy, the founder of Chick-fil-A. My choice for an example wasn’t universally embraced by those who read the entry. Many of the negative comments I received about the article referenced either Cathy’s politics or his religious beliefs. I had written about neither.
It sounds like a childhood taunt. “What are you afraid of?” If you close your eyes for a minute, chances are you can go back in time and recall a situation in which you were asked that exact question. Someone was trying to push you into doing something you really didn’t want to do—daring you to push beyond your comfort level.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the phrase “servant leadership.”
Yesterday I happened down a road I drive on occasionally. I typically take the road northbound as a shortcut to a particular destination. But yesterday I found myself driving south on the same road and barely recognized it. In fact, I had to turn to my wife and ask if we were on the right road. The surroundings seemed unfamiliar to me despite the fact that I travel on the road a couple of times each month.
Against my better judgment, I’m going to address the tragic death of Michael Brown. Any time an 18-year-old boy dies, regardless of the circumstances, it’s a tragedy. And yes, I believe he was just a boy despite legally having reached adulthood. I have a son who is just months away from his 18th birthday, and to me, he’s clearly still a boy.
With the recent tragic death of comedian and actor Robin Williams, my family and I decided to watch one of his many great films over the weekend, Dead Poets Society. The movie is about a group of boys at a private prep school. It’s there that they meet Professor Keating, their new English teacher, who is played by Williams. Keating encourages the boys to embrace their individualism, think independently, and pursue their passions. This leads them on a path of self-discovery that clashes with the rigid culture of the conservative institution they attend. Keating’s methods ultimately cost him his job, but they win him the respect and affection of his students.
You don’t spend nearly enough time simply thinking. Before you take offense to that statement, consider how much time you spend talking, responding to e-mail, even reading—my guess is that you spend more time doing any one of them than you do thinking.
Vision without action is merely a dream. Action without vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.
—Joel A. Barker
Among my favorite movies is the 1991 film City Slickers. Billy Crystal plays radio ad salesman Mitch Robbins, who is having a bit of a midlife crisis. Mitch and his two best friends decide to leave New York City to spend two weeks on a cattle drive in the Southwest. It’s there that Mitch meets Curly, the crusty trail boss played by Jack Palance.