Building Bridges, not Burning Them

When I graduated from Dixie State College a very influential guy named Thomas S. Monson spoke at the commencement ceremony. He based his remarks on the poem by Will Allen Dromgoole entitled “The Bridge Builder.” This poem, and the talk that it inspired, are powerful. It sheds a beautiful light on service-based leadership and illustrates the importance building bridges instead of burning them. Here it is for your reading pleasure:

THE BRIDGE BUILDER

An old man, going a lone highway,
Came at the evening cold and gray,
To a chasm, vast and deep and wide,
Through which was flowing a sullen tide.
The old man crossed in the twilight dim-
That sullen stream had no fears for him;
But he turned, when he reached the other side,
And built a bridge to span the tide.

“Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near,
“You are wasting strength in building here.
Your journey will end with the ending day;
You never again must pass this way.
You have crossed the chasm, deep and wide,
Why build you the bridge at the eventide?”

The builder lifted his old gray head.
“Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said,
“There followeth after me today
A youth whose feet must pass this way.
This chasm that has been naught to me
To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be.
He, too, must cross in the twilight dim;
Good friend, I am building the bridge for him.”

-WILL ALLEN DROMGOOLE

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The Power of Happiness

I just wrote a research paper for my organizational behavior MBA class about happiness. Apparently happiness and positivity are more important and more rare than we ever thought. I’d love to get some thoughts/feedback on my paper. this is a topic I find absolutely fascinating.

Proceed to the aforementioned paper by clicking here: The Power of Happiness

Want to get Richer? Then Give More Away

What? Giving money away makes you richer? That can’t be right, it seems a little counter-intuitive doesn’t it? That’s what Syracuse University economics professor Arthur C. Brooks used to think. Then he did some digging. After years of research he found that those who donate their time and money (and blood, believe it or not) earn more money as a direct result of their charitable giving. He found this to be true across every income level and country.  But don’t take my word for it, read his own compelling (if not life-changing) words by clicking here.

The above link is talk that Brooks gave in 2009 at BYU. This talk resonated deeply with me when I read it. It articulates exactly what I want to do and become – both personally and professionally. He says that “acts of charity-giving money, serving others, even donating blood-create a remarkable return, lifting us spiritually and financially.” If that’s not the creed of “enlightened leadership” and stamping out corruption then I don’t know what is!

Scriptural Support:
This sounds like a direct fulfillment of Malachi 3:10 that says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

In other words, the more you give the more you get. Thank you Dr. Brooks for helping us to prove the usefulness of biblical principles in business and leadership!

Comments: Has this ever happened to you? Why does giving make you richer?

The Business of Spaghetti Sauce

Is there anything better than your favorite spaghetti sauce? Ok maybe. But, spaghetti sauce has to be in your top 10 at least! The only question is ……. Prego vs. Ragu?

Check out this informative (if not life-changing) Ted Talk by Malcolm Gladwell and see what conclusion you come to.

Malcolm Gladwell on Spaghetti Sauce

Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith”

Swallow Your Pride

Business Principle

the famous poet Will Smith once said (that was a joke) in his infamous song entitled Wild Wild West, “Swallow your pride, don’t let your lip react, you don’t wanna see my hand where my hip be at.” William captures an important leadership principle in this poorly worded and inappropriate (yet catchy) lyric. Great leaders know that pride and selfishness need to be avoided like a plague. Pride is like an infection or a cancer (whichever medical analogy you prefer to use) because it is incredibly contagious and difficult to get rid of. Fueled by gossip and criticism it DESTROYS productivity and effectiveness. This is a tremendous area of opportunity for an enlightened leader. People take their behavioral cues from leadership when it comes to pride vs. humility. If a leader is arrogant and full of himself, so too will the employees be.

John G. Miller addresses this pride vs. humility debate in his new book entitled Outstanding!: 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional. He says that one way for leaders to avoid the cantankerous effects of pride is to regularly ask people for their sincere input. This is relatively easy to do and often done by companies. But the hard part (and the most important part) is following through. If an employee gives you a suggestion – LISTEN! Sometimes we forget that our employees have brains too.

Scriptural Support

One of my favorite stories of the Old Testament is the story about Naaman, a prestigious captain of the Syrian army. 2 Kings chapter 5 talks about how he contracted leprosy and went to the prophet Elisha to be healed. Instead of meeting him face to face Elisha sent out a servant to meet him and deliver the message for him to wash seven times in the River Jordan. Naaman didn’t like that. He threw a fit because the prophet treated him so simply and didn’t perform an ostentatious miracle. It was at this point where Naaman’s servants approached him and said in verse 13:

13 …. if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?

Luckily Naaman was humble enough to listen to his trusted servants and wash in the River Jordan and be healed. When we listen to our employees and follow through with their suggestions we show them that we trust them. Trust is essential for an organization’s success. Plus, more than likely they will give some great suggestions. So let’s follow the wise words of Mr. William Smith and “swallow your pride,” and our organizations will be much better off.

Comments: Have you ever seen an organization full of pride and arrogance? How about an organization that showed humility and really listened to people? Is there a difference?

Rise to the Top

In his book QBQ! The Question Behind the Question John G. Miller talks about doing your best no matter what your current situation is, even if you don’t have the right tools, systems, or just don’t like your job. He argues that working your hardest regardless of these excuses is an important characteristic of an integral person and a great leader. These are the kinds of people who rise to the top of an organization.

The Old Testament has a story like this. It’s the story of Joseph and Egypt in Genesis 37–45. Joseph started in a very high position as a favored son in a large and important family. He got a special coat from his father Jacob and things were looking good for him. However, after an envy-induced attack by his brothers he ended up as a slave in Egypt. He worked hard though, and his master Potifer quickly promoted him as the head servant of his household. But that didn’t last long. Potifer’s wife was very promiscuous and dishonest. She had Joseph thrown into jail because of his high moral values. Did that stop Joseph? Of course not! He continued to work as hard as he could and eventually he rose to a high position – EVEN IN PRISON! Joseph had a knack for rising to the top due to his great wisdom, compassion, and hard work ethic. Eventually he became the Pharaoh’s right hand man, saved his family, and changed the world.

If Joseph can rise to the top from within prison, then who am I to complain about my situation? Anyone from anywhere can become a great leader if they become skilled, work hard, and serve people. Joseph is a great example of someone who made the most of a bad situation. Good thing he never gave up and said, “I’d work harder if I had a better position.” This is why he so consistently rose to the top.

Comments: Do you have any experiences similar to this? Have you ever seen someone who worked hard no matter what and eventually rose to the top?