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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Book Review: Management Lessons From Mayo Clinic

Management Lessons from Mayo Clinic: Inside One of the World's Most Admired Service OrganizationsManagement Lessons from Mayo Clinic: Inside One of the World’s Most Admired Service Organizations by Leonard L. Berry

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! Healthcare can be a discouraging and even depressing industry to work in. It’s so refreshing and encouraging to learn about about a healthcare system that places high importance on culture and people.

Mayo Clinic is an incredible success story and I thought it was fascinating to dissect their methods and learn from their success. I would love to work at a place like Mayo.

View all my reviews

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

Tired of Chasing Dollars? There’s a Better Way

Happy Test Week* everyone!

Leadership Principle
Have you ever thought, “I like business but I hate how everything revolves around money?” That’s exactly what I thought when I started my college education as a business major. That was even the line of thinking I used when I switched majors from business to biology (pre-med actually). I had only taken two business courses (accounting and economics) and I came to the conclusion that all of business revolved around money, money, money! I was wrong of course. I would learn later that business involves strategy, creativity, inspiration, caring, values, and many other topics that peak my interest.

The following link is a “Ted Talk” by one of my favorite guys, Simon Sinek. He is the author of Start with Why which is currently my favorite book. Listen to this talk (click on the link below) and you will gain profound insights into the passion and inspiration side of business and leadership. Learn how you can finally stop “chasing dollars” and focus on what you really care about. (Spoil Alert: Count how many times he says “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.)

Simon Sinek: How great leaders inspire action

Scriptural Support
Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

*Test week is a popular phrase in med school that roughly translates into “a very stressful and important exam is coming up, the preparation for which will require 150% of my time (yes, that’s right, there is absolutely no way possible to ever be fully prepared)”

Anyway, during test weeks I will probably keep my posts brief and to the point. They may, in fact, prove to be more interesting and effective that way 🙂

Martin Luther King, Jr: The Great Communicator

Leadership Principle
He’s known throughout the world as THE great civil rights leader. He influenced presidents, politics, media, education, and the entire way we think about freedom and equality. As a result we have a holiday and about 10,000 roads (ok maybe that’s an exaggeration) named after him. No matter how you slice it, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an incredible leader. But why was he such an effective leader? He wasn’t the only educated leader of the day, and he certainly wasn’t the only one who suffered in a pre-civil rights America. The answer is, in part at least, his ability to communicate. He caught our imagination and painted a picture of how things COULD be. He inspired us when he spoke and made us want to take action. We can learn a lot from Dr. King and how he communicated.

Communication is a vital (and often overlooked) ingredient for success. Dr. James Wetherbe of Texas Tech University asserts that eighty percent of our problems (individually and collectively) are not problems at all, they’re just MISUNDERSTANDINGS! Think of it, if you could communicate perfectly you would eliminate EIGHTY PERCENT of your problems. The American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) asked the most successful graduates from the top ten schools of business what the single most important leadership skill that lead to their success was. Their answer: interpersonal communication skills.

Scriptural Support
If something is important for leadership then you’ve got to assume that Jesus was amazingly good at it. And that is exactly the case with His communication skills. His teachings, stories and parables were timely, illustrative and inspiring. So much so, that we still quote them two thousand years after His life. And they are as relevant now as they were back then. I’d say that He definitely passed the communication test.

So What?
If you want to be an effective leader, you HAVE to be a great communicator. A fantastic resource for this topic (and my favorite book ever) is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Comments: What do you think? Is communication really that important?

Who’s on Board? Part II: Keep the Good Ones and Lose the Pinheads

Leadership Principle
Getting the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus (the topic of the last post) is clearly very important. But what do we do once all the right people are on? The answer is: KEEP THEM ON THE BUS!

I used to work for a healthcare company that wasn’t known for the way they treated their employees (they focused on other things). In the emergency department where I worked there was a wide variety of people. Some were really effective and great to work with, and some were…….. not (to put it mildly). Everyone agreed that the best employee we had on the team was a nurse named Ana. She was great with the patients, fun to work with, and amazingly efficient. She could do the work of two people in half the time. I loved when I got assigned to work with Ana because it meant everything would go very smoothly and everyone would have an enjoyable experience.

Unfortunately the leadership and culture of the organization did not give proper value Ana’s hard work. I remember her telling me once not to overachieve because it would put me at a disadvantage. Crazy right?? Basically she felt overworked and underappreciated. After a while it appeared that she’d had enough because she transferred to a different division of the hospital. What a shame. The emergency department lost its best employee. They failed to keep the right people on the bus.

Scriptural Support
Jesus was in incredible leader. He was very patient with His disciples and trained them very well. He gave them positive feedback and showed that He valued their efforts. He created a culture that kept the right people on the bus for the rest of their lives. At the same time, the wrong people did not feel comfortable on the bus and they self-ejected. So, instead of keeping the wrong people and losing the right people, he kept the right people and lost the wrong people.

So What? How can we avoid losing our best people?
It all comes back to culture. How does our culture motivate and inspire our best people? Are they compensated fairly for their above-average efforts? Who do we cater to in our communications and policies? The highest achievers or lowest common denominator? The emergency department that I worked for the latter; they catered to the pinheads and lost their best people. After a while, these kinds organizations become full of pinheads.

Comments: What do you think the emergency department should have done to keep Ana?

What’s Your Why?

Business Principle

I’m currently reading the book Start with Why by Simon Sinek and LOVING it (which means there will probably be a whole bunch of future posts on it.) I have a love/hate relationship with those “duh I should have known that” moments, and this book is providing me with plenty of them. Sinek has it spot on when it comes to inspiring leadership, company culture, effective marketing and incredible long-term success. He dissects the successes of Apple and Southwest Airlines, so if you love those companies (and who doesn’t) then you will love this book.

Senek illustrates the power of starting with “why” by using examples like Steve Jobs, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright Brothers. They were all excellent at communicating their “why” and that lead to their inspiring success. They had a cause, a belief, and a passion that attracted like-minded people to join them. Advancing that cause was more important than anything, including turning a profit (which almost always follows as a result). Decisions were made based on the “why” and not based on ROI or earnings per share.

Scriptural Support

There’s another great example of someone who started with “why” and created a movement. He is an influential leader from the Bible who taught this same principle – Jesus. His cause was well articulated and he always made it His first priority. In fact, He put it ahead of His own personal comfort and safety. His message resonated with people and he gained a tremendous following. In Mathew 6:33 he teaches the principle like this: “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” In other words, when you put your “why” first everything else (profits, ROI, etc.) will fall into place. Anytime we follow the Savior’s example we can’t go wrong.

Comments: What do you think? Do you know of any other inspirational leaders that start with “why?” What happens to the culture of a company with a deep cause like this?