Are you planting trees, or feeling the pull of gravity?



When is the best time to plant a tree?  Twenty years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Now!

– Proverb

I know where I need to be and what I should be doing, but the motivation, sometimes, is not here.  The work to be done is daunting and includes the not so fun stuff. Holding people accountable, making a decision that is not popular and the rare occasion in which I realize I am wrong and need to regroup (lol).

How do I get the tree planted today? One step at a time. Movement overcomes the pull of   gravity from the tasks. Like Nike says, “Just Do It”!

My writing has fallen off (gravity), my exercise has all but ceased (gravity), but today is the day to plant the tree. Today is the day I find my flow of movement.

“Someone sits in the shade of a tree today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”


My question today is; Are you planting trees or are you just sitting in the shade? What are you doing?


To Lead, you must first Follow..

We all follow someone, our God, our families even movie stars, sports figures and sometimes politicians. Well maybe not politicians, but we do find inspiration in others. Sometimes we don’t realize the influence our bosses have over us until years later. The flip side is that we also have people around us that we are influencing as well. You may not even know the impact you have on someone watching you.

“If you believe lack of authority prevents you from leading effectively, it is time to rethink your understanding of leadership.”

— Mike Bonem and Roger Patterson
Leading From the Second Chair

Being a good follower and developing your ability and knowledge of your craft/role/position allows you to become respected as someone who knows their business. This is the first step in leadership, knowledge. People are impressed with those who hold knowledge and will seek to emulate them or compete with them.  Either way, there is direct influence happening based on your presence of apparent knowledge.

The exposures you have to those who guide your path each day will culminate over time.  This culmination will build some inherent traits, some good some bad, that  shape your influence actions.  Even if you can’t stand your boss, he will cast influence. After behaving in a manner for some time, a comfort level will develop.  This behavior may not be your conscious decision, but anytime a person is stressed or threatened, there is a propensity to revert to a known, familiar action. This action really defines a large area of leadership. So what is the answer?  Walk the walk…The more you act dependable, accountable, and compassionate the more it will become you.

“Learning the secrets and skill of great No.2s remains the surest path to becoming No. 1.”

— David Heenan and Warren Bennis

I remember as a young officer feeling like time was standing still on my ladder climb. I just knew I could do it better than the guy above me. The grind of waiting and working was really a seasoning of sorts. I learned all the nuances of the day-to-day and some of those “rare” instances take time to experience. I spent seven years at a rank before promoting and as I look back now and I can see those years were necessary and priceless. I was good at my position, but learned to be better at following the position above me. It took many years for me to actually realize these benefits. When you must mentor those up and comers, the time starts to take on new meaning.

“Followers are more important to leaders than leaders are to followers.”

You must be very clear in your thoughts of who you want to be, and then work on presenting this image with your actions. Credentials and knowledge are the tickets to play, actually gaining membership into the realm of leadership will be gained with your actions, legacy and those most valuable of all, your followers.  Be a good follower to set the example and you’ll be the leader you aspire to be.

Parting Shot: Leadership is a gift from those who follow…..

Please click the link below and watch the ultimate followership youtube video…..

Followership instructional video…

Lessons in leadership from the Bottom

True “leadership” occurs at all levels of an organization. The old saying, “if you don’t like it, change it” in someway espouses that everyone has the ability to create change. This is true if they are also given the authority to carry through with the mission. Change is, at it’s very foundation, the definition of leadership. Leadership can be defined many ways, but moving from one position to another is a very clear explanation.


Rookie firefighter comes to work and is expected to learn the district. After looking over the map book, the rookie realizes the book is poorly organized and difficult to learn. Knowing there were better map books in the industry, the rookie requested a meeting with the Chief to see if he could convince him to change the book. The Chief met with the rookie and listened to the complaint of how inefficient the map book was and that there were better ones we could emulate to improve our process. The Chief, being a teacher of leadership, told the rookie to come back with an example and then he would evaluate it. The rookie, feeling somewhat validated but mostly challenged, set out to improve on the map book. After a week, the new proposal for a map book was presented to the Chief with some confidence and enthusiasm that the change would happen. Result; the Chief liked it enough to tell the rookie to develop, distribute and train everyone on the new map book.

The example was a classic story of leadership from both ends of the organization. The Chief was teaching and actually leading the change by engaging a rookie who exhibited enthusiasm for driving the change. The rookie realized there was something wrong in the system and brought it to the attention to the Chief. The responsibility assigned to the rookie  was given with the authority to create change.

Lesson learned;

change can occur from every position in an organization and when leadership emerges it should be fostered and supported with authority to carryout the initiative.

How to do, is how to be..

Follow Me

Shaping an organization starts with a long look in the mirror. No matter how much I want everyone to embrace an idea or philosophy, it takes inspiration for people to move to action. This inspiration will only come from the one they see and respect as a leader. If you,  the leader, actually walks the walk then the example will be validated that your actions back up your vision. If you walk the walk with passion, your vision will take flight with purpose. When a group rallies around a purpose and can see the inspiration to action from a passionate leader, you cannot fail.

Leadership is a gift, given by those who follow, General Mark Welsh

Reinforcement of your vision will be necessary as well. Just because you give an impassioned speech to the troops doesn’t mean a week later they will remember what you said. Even when your walking the walk, don’t expect those around you to maintain the same enthusiasm without a dose of motivation on a regular basis. One thing to avoid in this tactic is motivation without any sight of movement. If your ideas aren’t getting traction, the followers will lose faith that what your selling is nothing more than just that, an idea. When traction occurs, highlight the action with more motivation. Don’t let the movement stall without an adjustment to create more traction.

Give credit where credit is due, with those followers that actually make it happen. It doesn’t matter whose idea it was, it matters who put legs under it and birth the idea into action. Followers live for accomplishing goals inline with their purpose. Connect these two and you begin designing a culture. Followers want to accomplish more to take them down the road towards the destination of purpose.

There is a lot more to building a culture that embraces challenges that some fear as change. It all starts with who their leader is and what he/she looks like to the masses. An organization can sniff out insincerity a mile away. You cannot fake your passion and example of leadership. You can try it. Once.

We all make mistakes along the way. How you handle the mistakes will also define who you are in their eyes. Be humble, honest and open about your actions. If you stumble, make sure it’s with grace. Never compromise your ethics. Stand up in front of the group and own any failures or mistakes that come from honest effort. Mistakes and failures can actually reinforce your respect as a leader depending on how you handle them. Honesty maintains trust in that others see who you profess to be, the leader. We are not always right, but we try.

 I have not failed. I’ve just found 10000 ways that won’t work. ~Thomas Edison

Parting shot;  Leadership is how to be, not how to do… Frances Hesselbein