The year was 1976.  I was eight years old, Star Wars had just been released and I was ready (at that ripe old age) to enter the workforce.  The kid down the street was giving up his paper route and he had asked me if I wanted to take it over.  All four of my older brothers had had their own paper routes and, at one time or another, I had helped them in their duties.  I figured my time had come.

I had that paper route for nearly 6 years.  I got myself up at 5am, delivered the papers in rain, shine and in sub zero temperatures.  I worked that route and, every day since,  have still been working.   It started with a paper route, mowing lawns, shoveling driveways and then on to 22 years in the Navy and, subsequently, working independently with leaders to lead better.  For forty years, I’ve been working.  This doesn’t make me special, it makes me fairly normal in my family.   I am the youngest of six children and, when we became able, we’ve worked.  Where did we learn it?  From the Ol’ Man.

With six kids, my Dad worked 3 jobs in order to support us.  He didn’t complain.  He just did it.  He set the example.  He didn’t need to tell us that working was expected, we knew it because he showed us.   He also showed us what it meant to be a good father, have a good sense of humor, and what loyalty meant.  Through trial, tribulation, and whatever life threw his way, he led through example.

As a leader, the best thing we can do is to be.  We should be what we want to see from our team.  There is NO SUBSTITUTE for personal example.

Do you want loyalty?  Give it!

Do you want respect?  Show it!

Do you want hard work?  Do it!

Do you want openness?  Speak it!

We can say what we want as much as we want.  However, if we’re not showing it through personal example, the words mean nothing.

My Dad set a great example for me growing up and so have numerous other leaders I’ve have the privilege of working with over the years.  They didn’t have to tell me what was expected, they showed me.

As a leader, if you want it, be it.  YOU set the example!

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