Ignite what matters


Ship Or Get Off the Pot

Posted in bold leadership,building teams by ignitewhatmatters on August 19, 2010
Tags: , , , , , ,

Think about the last time you performed at your very best. Name what was happening. What were you doing? Thinking? Feeling? Communicating with others?

I suspect that time did not include actions named such as “not rocking the boat”, “keeping my head above water”, “going with the flow” and, one of my favorites, “shoveling %$#& against the tide”… Yet how often do we hear people describe how things are going at work and/or in their lives with these dreadful status quo offerings?

Earlier this week, I asked a mid-level leader how one of his leaders was performing this month and his words hit me: “he is keeping the ship afloat, not building new ships.” Safe (or seemingly safe) floating = slow and certain death. Period. Cinch up the PFD and hold on? That doesn’t sound like an Olympic best.

Consider this definition: leaders perform their best when their teams perform at their best. Enter: energy, emotion, trust, talent, will to win, purpose…and 5 more of your favorite cool things. Your best leader day builds the space for your team to break records… and they do.

This quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, one of my favorites, sums up the leadership shift where best-ever results are possible: “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

Wanna float or build a ship? The Sea of Possibility awaits you.

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7 Responses to 'Ship Or Get Off the Pot'

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  1. Ronnie Noize said,

    Great stuff, Sue. I long for the endless immensity of the sea!


  2. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Veronika Noize, Sue Melone. Sue Melone said: Ship Or Get Off the Pot: Think about the last time you performed at your very best. Name what was happening. Wha… http://bit.ly/dpXvrv [...]


  3. Thanks Sue. Excellent article, as always. In my work I find that leaders who know their “purpose” or “why” and communicate it clearly get the energy, emotion, trust, talent, will to win and best results from their team!

    I look forward to your next thought and action provoking note.

  4. Patrice Cook said,

    I heard one yesterday in the elevator that I actually had to write down:
    “Just plodding through”. Wow – what a hard way to go.

    I love your analogy. It makes me want to sail.

  5. Kim LaFever said,

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. To think, I wasn’t even going to read this right now. I love the metaphor within. Thanks Sue!

  6. Jeff Rubin said,

    But someone still has to gather the wood, etc. Keeping the ship afloat is what keeps people from having to cinch up the PFD, or to cross metaphors, someone still needs to keep the wheels on – and that takes a lot of energy and skill. An organization made up entirely of strategic visionaries doesn’t last long. Having been part of a “trend-setting” organization, I can attest to the value of the ones with at least one foot on the ground.


    • You bet, Jeff! Trust, my favorite place on earth is where feet are on the ground and real work is happening. My read of the quote, and I am certain that I have an engagement bias, is that by engaging folks wholly (not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually) energy and talents come together to gather wood and do other tasks that lead the team on a journey to the desired outcome. Command and control type leadership isn’t needed or effective when the team is focused and mutually accountable for an outcome they are passionate about. Yes, leaders I want to be around have the ability to keep the work on course and the awareness to provide the resources necessary for the team to be successful. I suspect you are one of them.
      Thank you for the share…. you have my mind reeling. : )


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