LLML NUMBER 9

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Mowing the lawn involves a lot of pushing. However, if I want to get the lawn mowed, I have to keep on pushing. To keep on pushing I will sweat, I will feel the burn, I will fight fatigue, and I will struggle. I have to do all that to keep going. That mower isn’t going to push itself! This leads me to LLML (Leadership Lessons from Mowing the Lawn) Number 9:

Leadership involves a lot of hard work.

People talk all the time about working smarter and not harder. I am all for that. I continually try to work smarter and not harder. That principle is sound and we should all practice it as much as possible. However, as sound as that principle is, leadership still requires hard work. Dealing with people problems, making tough decisions, going the second, third, and fourth mile all require very hard work. Leadership is not easy, but the more committed you are to fulfilling your role as a leader the more willing you will be to doing the hard work of a leader.

The TV series, Deadliest Catch, chronicles the lives of commercial crab fishermen on the Bering Sea. One of the common refrains from the ships’ captains is the need to be committed to the daily grind. You don’t catch all your crab in one pot or in one day. You must be committed to that daily grind and it is hard work. You are baiting and hauling pot after pot, day after day, doing that daily grind. That is what makes these captains the leaders that they are in their industry. LLML Number 9:

Leadership involves a lot of hard work.


LLML NUMBER 8

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Mowing the lawn may not be the most intellectually demanding job. Nevertheless, that does not in any way detract from the job’s necessity and importance. Mowing the lawn may not demand the same skills I use when I write html, interview a client, or play a game of chess. Those distinctions do not impugn the act of mowing the lawn. Mowing the lawn still has value in its own right and for many reasons—as do all jobs. This leads me to LLML (Leadership Lessons from Mowing the Lawn) Number 8:

Show your appreciation for every role within your organization.

As leaders, it is easy to become engulfed within our own little worlds because after all, they really are that important now, aren’t they? It is easy to appreciate what we do because we are so adept at doing it now, aren’t we? It is easy to appreciate ourselves because we can feel every bit of that blood, sweat and tears now, can’t we?

That might (and that’s a big “might”) all be true. Nevertheless, leaders don’t have that privilege. Genuine leaders are called to serve others first. You can’t serve others first if you don’t appreciate who they are and what they do. Either you do appreciate every role within your organization or you don’t. No partial credit is allowed here. One of the greatest things that we can do for our own leadership is to recognize the value that each individual team member brings to the table every single day. LLML Number 8:

Show your appreciation for every role within your organization.


LLML NUMBER 7

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Because of the size of my lawn and the size of my lawn mower, I will always run out of gas about three fourths of my way through the job. Therefore, after I have filled the tank at the beginning of the job, I conveniently position the gas can at about the spot where I believe I will run out of gas. Sometimes my predictive powers are highly accurate and sometimes they are way off base. Much of this of course depends on the condition of the lawn and how fast I happen to push the mower. Depending on which way all that rolls, I enhance or detract from my lawn-mowing efficiency. This leads me to LLML (Leadership Lessons from Mowing the Lawn) Number 7:

Create realistic plans.

If I just tossed the gas can wherever it wants to land, then I will end up hiking a lot further when I need to retrieve it. However, careful realistic planning usually results in that gas can being in the right spot at the right time, for which I am always grateful.

That is exactly what we should be doing as leaders. We probably could not count the number of businesses that have run aground because its leaders did not plan realistically. They either did not believe the data or they refused to engage the people that could provide the data. To plan realistically, we must be in close communication with our key players so that we understand what is realistic and why. Our success will only be as good as our plans. LLML Number 7:

Create realistic plans.


LLML NUMBER 6

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Some people happen to hate mowing the lawn. I happen to love it. Could I pay someone else to do it? Yes. Could I upgrade to a rider mower to make it easier? Yes. Are there times when it makes my schedule difficult? Yes.

Nevertheless, I keep on mowing the lawn. I do this because of certain benefits that I derive from mowing the lawn. Although I could list many benefits such as the meditation time, the lawn’s appearance, and the feeling of accomplishment, one of the most important benefits is the physical fitness. I have exercised my entire life because I believe in keeping myself in the best possible physical condition. Mowing the lawn throws another kind of exercise at my body and I always feel great because of it. This leads me to LLML (Leadership Lessons from Mowing the Lawn) Number 6:

Know what creates benefits, even when it is not obvious to everyone.

You see, it would be easy for other people to identify the apparent disadvantages of mowing the lawn myself, criticize my priorities, and persuade me to stop mowing the lawn. However, I know the benefits that I derive. I’m not about to give up those benefits.

As leaders, we sometimes discover powerful benefits derived from a process, colleague, or strategy. Therefore, we do what we have to do to preserve those benefits. Our observations along with an intuitive awareness consistently confirm that truth. We understand the benefits-production model and that knowledge leads us to maintain our commitment to the model in spite of what others may say or think. LLML Number 6:

Know what creates benefits, even when it is not obvious to everyone.


LLML NUMBER 5

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Some of us are better at knowing the difference between valuable desired plants and worthless undesired weeds. More than once, I have mowed over something only later to learn from my better half that I had destroyed a valuable desired plant. This leads me to LLML (Leadership Lessons from Mowing the Lawn) Number 5:

Communicate with your team and all affected parties.

Leadership involves many responsibilities and they are all very important. However, without thorough communication throughout your network, everything you do will be hindered. People will not understand you without communication. People will not respond without communication. People will not know how to support you without communication. Communication is your leadership’s life blood.

When we are communicating properly, we maximize our odds of success with our network. When we are not communicating properly, we minimize our odds of success with our network. If I had been in better communication with my wife, then I probably would not have mowed over that valuable desired plant. LLML Number 5:

Communicate with your team and all affected parties.