On the Shoulders of Giants

1987 World Series ParadeIt was time to celebrate. The Minnesota Twins had won the 1987 World Series. There were two victory parades, I went to the one in Saint Paul. As expected the crowds were incredible. The best spot I could find left me about ten feet back from the street with a solid wall of people in front of me. Standing next to me was a lady and her young son. We chatted a bit as we waited for the parade to begin.

When the procession of Twins players began to arrive it quickly became evident that I wasn’t going to be able see much. They were riding in the back of convertibles and even though they were sitting up on the back of the seat it was still hard to see them through the crowd. And the poor boy next to me wasn’t going to see anything.

Then I got an idea and after quickly clearing it with the mother and the boy I lifted him up onto my shoulders. Now he had a great view of the players as they rode by. The unexpected and delightful part of this was that the boy knew who all the players were, and as they went by he would call out their names. He provided us below a view of what was happening. I was able to see the parade through the eyes of this boy, which enriched the experience for me.

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”
Isaac Newton

One might add to this quote, “If I have seen more deeply it is by lifting others up.” When we lift someone else up to give them a greater perspective on life we find that our own vision is enriched as well. It’s not a selfless thing done only for their benefit. It’s not a selfish thing done only for our own benefit. Lifting others is simply the right thing, and it benefits us all, brings us together and in the end lifts us all up. Sometimes we are called upon to be the giant. Sometimes we are the one being lifted. Either way our view improves.

“To lead is to bring people together on higher ground.”

This is my Kala Patthar

This is my Everest (T.I.M.E.).  That slogan has provided me inspiration when facing large challenges in my life.  More importantly it serves as a reminder to fully experience the journey.  It is particularly meaningful to me this time of year.  The inspiration comes from my cousin, Lute, who was part of the first American expedition to climb Mount Everest, reaching the summit himself on May 22nd, 1963.  In the talks he gave later he would tell people that everyone has their own Everest.

When it comes to leadership, however, I have a slightly different perspective, and the mountain that comes to mind is Kala Patthar.  It is not the height of Kala Patthar that earns the mountain its distinction.  While the summit is a lofty 18,192’ (5545m) it is overshadowed in the Himilayas where it stands.   What is notable about Kala Patthar is the excellent view it provides of Mount Everest, which stands at 29,029’ (8848m).

The leadership vision I hold for the world is grand in scope and ambition, and is not a vision I expect to ever see come to reality, not in my lifetime.  I cannot even fully imagine what the world would be like if these principles became the norm and not the exception.  And there is so much I need to learn about leadership.  My hope is that in my lifetime I will at the least come to a point where I can fully envision and articulate what the reality would look like.

This is my Kala Patthar.  To fully experience my own leadership journey.  And then to some day stand and look off to the lofty heights and see the possibilities for a world that universally embraces principles such as these:

  • Leadership and management are seen as unique concepts, distinct from each other, to the benefit of both.
  • Leadership is on PAR – each and every person has the Permission, Ability and Responsibility to lead when a situation calls upon them to do so.
  • Managers are not seen as the victors, the ones who achieved their prestigious post as a reward for being the best at what the organization does. They are not seen as leaders simply because they are ahead in the race up the ladder. Managers are managers because they are the best at managing. Leaders are leaders because others have chosen to follow and they have accepted their responsibility to lead.
  • A person’s value to an organization is assessed only in the context of their intrinsic worth.
  • Being and becoming precede doing and achieving.
  • The primary intent of doing and achieving is to become more from it.
  • Doing and achieving produce results never before imagined when based on a foundation of being and becoming.
  • Leadership is primarily a matter of the heart, based on compassion for another as they are, and passion for what we can be.

What is your Everest? What is your Kala Patthar?

Image: www.yatlik.com/34525/index.html