Andrew Carnegie said “No man can become rich without himself enriching others”. He went on to live this philosophy and when he was further asked to elaborate on the statement he said, “When you work with people it is a lot like mining for gold. When you mine the gold, you must literally move tons of dirt to find a single ounce of gold. However, you do not look for dirt- you look for the gold”. Another wise man put it even better by saying “The greatest good we can do, for others is not to share our riches with them but to reveal theirs to them.”
What this means is that the best managers or leaders find ‘good’ in their employees and they make it a priority to recognize it. Too many of them however do exactly the opposite. In other words, most of us, in our daily managerial duties, don’t feel like we often become the exact opposite and function in a role similar to Police detectives.
A story is told how a Chinese psychology professor returned an examination paper of a student unmarked save for one mark in each corner of the paper. Frustrated that his paper was not graded properly (as all the other papers had been) the student stood up to demand an explanation. The professor got that big smile on his face, took the student aside, paused for dramatic effect and said, “Young man, zero so big, not fit on paper, but I know you are better than this”.
After thinking about this story, it dawned on me that we usually as managers or leaders do not reward ‘good’ as required. You remember how it was when you were in school. You got the paper back and even though you scored 80-90 percent the paper had so much red on it that it looked like it was mortally wounded. I am confident that you and I as leaders are alike in at least one way. If we get 80-90 percent of our work correct, we would like to have somebody point out some of that part in addition to the part we fell short on. As leaders we need to know that recognition of ‘good’ in a person or employee is one of the most important tools to motivate in every job. We must point out the good as well as the things that people do wrong. You do 99 percent correct work and you may be completely invisible, but make one little mistake and you are terribly ridiculed. That is unfair and it is devastating in its impact on productivity and leaders need to know this.
I used to think that Diamond is highly sought after because it glitters. But I realized later that it is highly sought for because it is difficult to destroy. Orison sweet Marden said, “Deep within man dwell those” slumbering powers, powers that would astonish him, that he never dreamed of possessing, forces that would revolutionize his life if aroused and put into action.” I mean if you start to see good in your employees or your followers or people you lead,, their performance will astonish you. What do you see good in your employee? Do not see only bad things! As an optimistic Goodfinder with many years’ experience, I am convinced that with commitment and persistence you can find something good about any person, performance or situation. After all, even a stopped clock is exactly right twice every twenty four hours! I mean leaders should not struggle to see a small glimpse of a dark cloud which seems to blanket their leadership against the mass of blue sky possessed by their employees. These leaders never realize the magic secret of true potential in the people they lead. I mean do not judge a book by its cover.
William Shakespeare said, “There is tide in the affairs of men, which, when at the flood, leads on to fortune, omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and misery.” A father and his childhood friend attended his son’s graduation ceremony. After the young man received his diploma the proud father hugged him and with tears in his eyes, told his son that this was the happiest day of his life, with that, the father handed his son a hastily wrapped package saying, “I am delighted to give you a present that, I pray you will enjoy for the rest of your life”.
When the boy opened the package, he found a brand new Bible; he lifted it high above his head and threw it down at his father’s feet. His father clutched his chest and fell on the ground dead from a massive heart attack.
Some years later, the son was visited by his father’s best friend. The old man said, “This is the Bible your father gave you the day you graduated from college. I picked it after your father collapsed’. After the old man had left the boy began thumbing slowly through the yellowed pages. He turned the pages until the last page where he found taped to the inside back cover the tarnished keys to a new car.
This story is a classic reminder to all leaders that perception is reality – we see what we want to see and believe what we want to believe. If we want to perceive the truth, we have to look with an open mind and dig beneath the surface of all those we lead. A realistic leader will see a seed as a tree but a forest but a pessimist leader will see a seed as just a ‘seed’.
Eleanor Roosevelt though married to the President had a major problem because she was un- attractive person. But she wrote what became the theme of her life, “No one can make me feel inferior, without my permission”. As a result she changed the way that she saw herself and made a monumental impact upon her time. The people that worked with her, and for her said that the longer you worked around her the more beautiful she became. George Bernard Show said “I am not a creature of circumstances; I am a creator of circumstances. These people saw good both in themselves and the circumstances surrounding them. This positive like attitude does not only exist in contemporary world but also in Holy Scriptures.
In fact one of the most dynamic illustrations of positive expectation in the heart of sacred scripture is found in the classic confrontation of David and Goliath. I know many leaders are well acquainted with all of the details of this drama, may I encourage you not to let your familiarity with the story rob you of its gripping message. When every soldier was cowering in fear in the valley and shared a common conviction: “That man is too big to hit! We will never be able to kill him”, David looked over the ledge and said “He is too big to miss!” The difference was David’s perspective. He saw great opportunity in the giant. Do you see great opportunity or ‘good’ in the people you lead?
It doesn’t matter how smart, cute or talented your employees or people you lead are, they cannot simply see their own eye colours by looking from within themselves. They need your support as a leader to bring out the best out of themselves. In other words be their ‘Loving Mirror’. I know most of them may not wish to be corrected but remind them the wise words from Dr. Norman Vincent Peale ,”The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”
Oliver Wendell said, “What lies behind and before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Remember also, it is said that, “The test of generosity is not necessarily how much you give but how much you have left.” Therefore, what is that good thing in your employees that you have never told them?
If you see something good in them and you inspire them to use their talents to serve the organization, you will be surprised what they are able to achieve. Perhaps I should emphasize this by quoting what the great philosopher of India, Patanjali, said, “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all of your thoughts break bonds, your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction and you find yourself in a new great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become a live and you discover yourself to be greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
If you want to get the best out of man, you must look for the best that is in him (Bernard Haldane).So, look, appreciate and recognize the best in your follower or employee!