Charles Handy is an Irish writer and good friend who looks at himself as a “social philosopher.” He has written wonderful things on leadership and organizations. My wife Margie and I had dinner with him and his wife Elizabeth recently. They do something very interesting—they help people decide who they are and where they are going in life, and they put it into photographs. One of the processes was interesting and I would love you all to think about it: What three roles do you have in life? One could be as a father or mother, one could be a salesperson, or a golfer, or whatever—I don’t know. And if you were going to design a picture, where would you place those roles in the room? What would be in the front of the picture, what would be in the middle, and what would be in the back? How you arrange these roles in the picture is really how you are rank-ordering them in your life. Then stop and really take a look at your present life and what you are spending your time on. Some people might put their role as a parent up front, and yet they are really not spending the time they should on that. One man had his role as an executive way in the back of his photo, and he had being a writer and a poet in the front. After he looked at it, he ended up quitting his job and concentrating on what he said he really loved to do—write poetry and also be with his family. So it’s interesting. What three roles do you have and where would you want to put them in a picture? I’m going to think about mine and I would love for you to think about your own.
My wife Margie and I needed to fly to New York in early September, and we had made a plan that we weren’t going to fly on September 11. But you know, life is not always in your own hands. I learned that from Don Shula really clearly when he talked about the importance of being audible-ready. That means you have to have a plan, but when plans go awry, you have to be able to “call an audible.” You have to go with the flow.
So on September 10 when we were on our way to our first stop in Dallas, there were all kinds of problems with the Dallas airport, and we had to land in Oklahoma City because we had to get more gas. We eventually got to Dallas at about nine o’clock that night. Of course, our connecting flight to New York had already taken off. So we stayed at the airport hotel right there. The next morning, September 11, we flew safely to New York City. I think one of the things that makes you relax and be more easy in life is if you have an audible-ready attitude. Shula said that when you call an audible in football, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a plan. When things change, you just have to call a different play. You can’t get all uptight and ticked off because you didn’t get to go with your original plan. Some people at the airport were really bent out of shape because their plans were changed. They got themselves all out of whack about something they couldn’t control. So sometimes things change and you have to just go with the flow.
One thought we have to keep at the top of mind is we are going to make it through this challenging time, and we’re going to do it together. We are. And we can’t get discouraged. We’re figuring this out together. Positive thinkers are winners. Why? Because they get positive results. And we’re going to get those. It’s going to be a story. It’s going to be a celebration. So don’t get down—keep up. We’re doing it all the time. You have a great, positive day, and remember we can do everything together. Remember that quote, “None of us is as smart as all of us.”
I have a great saying for you today that my friend Pat Zigarmi gave me last year when I was recovering from my hip surgery. This is a good one for all of us:
“Peace: It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.”
How is that? That’s really pretty powerful. Because with all the stress and the movement with the economy and everybody working hard and all, you have to find a way to stay peaceful in the midst of turmoil. That happens by quieting yourself periodically as you work through the day and know that you’re doing good things—you’re making a difference in people’s lives. Calm yourself down, take a few deep breaths, and recognize that peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart. Have a great day.
Something that’s so important in changing organizations for the better is the whole concept of trust. As I’ve said before, trust and respect go together. There are some real trust issues that people are dealing with out there. Sometimes people are not sure that the leader necessarily respects them and seeks their opinions. The leader could even be making an effort to do that, but people may be suspicious because of past leaders. It’s so important. It doesn’t do you any good to be concerned or have an issue about something and not let the person working with you, or someone else, know about it, so something can be done about it. As the CEO of WD-40 Company, Garry Ridge, says, everything is a learning opportunity if it’s an issue we can learn from. So I hope you really listen to your people, respect them, and ask their opinions. Treat everyone you work with as teammates in this tough economic time, so you can trust each other and work together toward what you’re trying to accomplish. I love the old saying that there’s no “I” in TEAM, because it’s so true.