When it comes to leadership, I find wisdom in a story from speaker and author Michael G. Rogers. It’s a parable that highlights five things great leaders should always remember.
A long time ago, a Pencil Maker was preparing to put an important pencil in a box. Before doing so, though, he took the pencil aside.
He said, “There are five things you need to know. If you can remember these five things, you will become the best pencil you can be.
“First: You will be able to do many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone else’s hand.
“Second: Sharpening is painful, but it is critical if you want to become a better pencil.
“Third: Because you have an eraser, you can correct most mistakes you make, though some may be harder to erase than others.
“Fourth: You may or may not look all that great on the outside, but remember that it’s what’s inside that’s most important; in fact, it’s your most important part.
“Fifth: Whatever surface you are used on, make sure you leave your mark. No matter how hard, tough or easy, you must continue to write.”
If you’re processing on the levels that you see, touch and hear to make decisions every day, you can learn about leadership from each of those five points. For example:
1. Remember that it was your mom or dad who taught you how to potty. You have learned everything you now know how to do.
2. If you are married, you already understand that sharpening is necessary. If not, your best friend may help you understand.
3. You’re going to make mistakes in life. Get over it and get on with it.
4. It’s your heart that people fall in love with. The outside will fade away in time.
5. All you have is today (maybe).
But if you were to think about the questions a bit differently — say from a broader or higher perspective — what would you say about who made the pencils, and what else there is for you to learn? What is the most important relationship that you might be missing? What is the relationship that you may need to disconnect from?
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