Be a Leader. Make a Difference. The World Needs You! - Smart Money Seed

6/7/17

Be a Leader. Make a Difference. The World Needs You!

What's your vision of a leader? A CEO, a powerful politician, or maybe your boss?
What if we told you that EVERYBODY has the opportunity to lead, regardless of position or job title?
What if we told you that we NEED you specifically to lead?


Let's do something different this week.

We're all here for a reason. We're all here for unique reasons. None of us are here to simply follow the status quo. None of us are here to simply push along someone else's idea of what's right without analyzing, challenging, and improving upon that idea.

Very rarely will you be explicitly asked for your opinion. It happens, but it's rare, and you generally are asked your opinion within some specific parameters or between a couple of defined choices. People don't ask for your open-ended opinion because opinions aren't safe. Facts are safe. The status quo is safe. Safe is comfortable to people. Safe makes people feel good. But safe is the furthest thing from good we could possibly experience.

If What You Want Doesn't Exist, Create It!

Let me walk you through the most basic example of this I can think of. You order your dinner at a restaurant. As long as the restaurant doesn't feel that their dish is an especially good idea, you are generally allowed to make modifications. You can substitute a side or ask them to omit an ingredient no problem. But what if that restaurant doesn't have exactly what you want? Would you ask them to make it for you so they can provide the best possible experience for you at that time? Would you change their idea on their menu to make it better at least for their specific goal to satisfy you tonight?

I'm not suggesting going to McDonald's and asking them to grill you some filet mignon. When I was younger, I would usually drink pop at restaurants. I'm happy to report that I've mostly kicked that bad habit and never order pop at restaurants anymore unless it comes with whiskey which is healthy since corn is a vegetable. But as the waitress brings me my 20 ounce craft beer, I am often reminded of my dark pop guzzling days. Cherry Coke was my favorite drink, but shockingly few restaurants carry that.

The very best waiters and waitresses would offer me Coke with grenadine which actually became my favorite version of Cherry Coke. It usually came with a cherry or two on a fun little sword. After I had this offered to me several times, I started asking every restaurant if they could put grenadine in my Coke even if they didn't explicitly offer. I was able to get my Cherry Coke (or Cherry Pepsi) about 90% of the time I went out to eat. Before I started asking, that was probably closer to 50%.

Sometimes your new ideas can even help other people and not just yourself. During our years growing up in Bucyrus and especially our summers at Home City Ice, Christian and I would frequent the local sports bar, Baker's Pizza. Baker's didn't have a buffalo chicken sandwich, which is my favorite thing to order at a sports bar, but on several occasions I asked them to make one for me and they obliged. Then a couple years ago, Baker's made some slight modifications to their menu and, lo and behold, the buffalo chicken sandwich had made its way onto the menu.

I don't give a shit if I don't deserve credit for inspiring Baker's to make that change. I'm taking it.

I'm getting pretty hungry, so I'm going to stop talking about food now.

This Isn't Going To Be Easy

Making a difference is hard work. Making a difference takes a ton of effort and commitment. And hardest of all, making a difference necessitates that you step outside your comfort zone. But the only way to make your life and your world exactly the way you want them is to make the differences you need. The only way to make that change is to step up and be a leader.

Being a leader doesn't mean being the president of the United States or the CEO of your company. Being a leader means standing up for what you believe in. Leaders are often criticized and not well received when they first begin leading. But leaders build trust and respect over time even if the people respecting the leader don't necessarily like that leader's ideas.

What makes you unhappy or frustrated? Is there something at work that you think should be done differently but nobody else seems to think that way? Maybe you've complained to co-workers or passive aggressively suggested to your boss that you're unhappy about that thing. But I bet most of you haven't stepped up as leaders and said "ENOUGH!" Why not? Because stepping up as a leader is scary. But how do you expect to see change without proposing change?

One of the first things I did at Marathon was creating a PowerPoint presentation about how much my department's onboarding program sucked including a very specific program for improving the process. I talked to my boss about it in a very healthy manner, and he asked me to send it to him. By the end of the week, my presentation criticizing the department was sent to every single person in my department, probably over a hundred people all across the country, with my name in big, bold letters right on the title slide.

As you can imagine, this was quite uncomfortable for me. I wished so badly that my manager had not sent it to the entire department. But then shortly after, a guy who had mentored me during my internship emailed me and told me how bad of an idea it was. He explained how I shouldn't rock the boat and how I didn't want to step up like this and incur the risk of putting a black mark on my resume. As I read his email, I realized how wrong he was. I realized how strongly I felt that creating that presentation was the right thing to do.

About a year after my presentation was sent, Marathon created an onboarding and training focus group to research and propose a solution for the onboarding and training process. I won't bore you with the details of that process or our recommendation, which took a few months to finalize, but the moral of the story is that as I type this article, our onboarding and training program is going to be drastically improved in the very near future.

Go. Act. Make a Difference!

Has anybody ever told you that you're not good enough? Deep down, do you feel like you're not
qualified to make a difference in our world?

I'm here to tell you that you are definitely qualified to make a difference. We all have the ability to make a difference. It's going to be scary, but we all need you to do it. We all need you to step up for our sake to make our world a better place. If you find something you believe in and work hard to support it, you will have achieved your purpose in life.

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