Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but playing a poor hand well. A leader must know how to do this. A leader must keep his head when all about him are loosing theirs and blaming it on him. And he must be able to trust himself when all men are doubting him, but make allowance for their doubting, too. A leader must understand his own system of values and beliefs as well as the values of the people around him. A leader must possess stamina, energy, tenacity, enthusiasm, and be able to build the capabilities of others, empowering them and motivating them to do their best. A good leader knows when he is in a process, how far he?s come, and how far he?s got to go. And most of all a leader must be willing to take risks for something that he believes in.
I have strived to be a leader and have prided myself in doing so. Several years ago I had a basketball coach who was more like a drill sergeant rather than a coach and he was constantly lecturing to us. He was always telling us to be a leader, not a follower. He was especially on my case about doing so because a lot of people looked up to me. He took me aside one day and gave me a piece of paper. I opened it and inside was a poem. He told me that he thought that I should take time to read it and think about it from time to time. The poem was titled ” The Builder ” and it read:
I saw a group of men in my hometown.
I saw a group of men tearing a building down.
With a heave and a ho and a mighty yell.
They swung a beam and the sidewalk fell.
And I said to the foreman. ” Are these men skilled.
The type you’d hire if you wanted to build?”
And he laughed and said, “Why, no indeed.”
He said, “Common labor’s all I need.
For I can tear down in a day or two
What it took a builder ten years to do.”
And I thought to myself as I walked away,
“Which of these roles am I going to play?
Am I the type that constantly tears down.
As I make my way, foolishly, around?
Or am I the type that’s trying to build with care,
In hopes that my orginization’ll be glad I was there?”
After I read the poem standing there in front of him he said, ” You are either building up or tearing down, there is no in-between.” I thought about what he said throughout that day and realized that there was a lot of truth to that statement.
I decided to make that statement my motto and to this day I still have that poem. I take it out now and then to read it and I ask myself, am I building up or tearing down? I hope that some day people will remember me as the type that’s trying to build with care, in hopes that my orginization’ll be glad I was there.