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Being part of something great
“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” ~ Abraham Lincoln, first inaugural address
I’m a patriot. I love the US Constitution, and I believe that, as a patriot, it is my duty to work to help my country live up to its highest ideals, to maximize what is good, and to work to fix what isn’t. In my opinion, it’s not enough to just wave a flag and talk about how great we are—democracy is a “participation sport,” and I need to do my part to uphold and protect the rights of ALL of my fellow citizens.
As leaders, we need to recognize that our experience as part of our team, our company, our community, and our nation are NOT the same as everyone else’s experiences. It’s good for us to strive for success, meaning, and fulfillment in our own lives and careers, but when we are “the boss,” we also have the responsibility to use our authority and influence, our position and power, to benefit more than just ourselves.
Everyone wants respect, so make sure to treat everyone with respect, and to use your influence to create a culture in which every person and their contribution is valued and appreciated. Don’t ignore or excuse bad behavior—step up to protect your people and create an environment in which no one ever feels comfortable showing disrespect to others.
Helping others achieve is good. It’s good for them, for the organization, for your clients, and for you personally. If you help your team members gain new skills and competencies, they will do higher quality work. This adds to your success in many ways: projects are completed on-time/on-budget, with fewer costly re-dos, with delighted clients who are more likely to give you repeat business… and with less of the hands-on work taking up your own billable time, freeing you up to do the things only you can do. Growing your people give them success and fulfillment within your organization, improving their morale and retention, and growing your team’s ability to take on more work, larger projects, or grow through expanding revenue streams.
Respect, and opportunities to grow and achieve—people want them; people can thrive when they have them. This is true for a small LLC with a couple of part-time independent contractors; it’s true for a team in a large, multi-state firm, and it’s true for families, communities, towns, and even our nation. Wherever you find yourself, I hope you will find ways to work like one of those “better angels” to bring out the potential for everyone you can.
If these efforts are tied to a personal sense of identity or purpose—patriotism, love of family, love for the community, the desire to build a firm that will outlast our own careers, etc.—it also feels REALLY GOOD to make a difference. Find ways to bring out this sense in yourselves and in those around you, and the possibilities and potential can be amazing and life-changing.
Have a happy and safe 4th of July!