Last Friday I had the privilege of speaking with a team of leaders – my favorite thing to do.
The owner of a local landscaping company asked me to talk with his team about leadership. Eighteen of us gathered in my living room and, over pizza lunch, we talked about the topic. I opened the conversation by thanking the team for the amazing landscaping work they had done in my yard last summer.
About a year ago, my husband and I decided we wanted to build a fire pit and seating area in our backyard, so that we could watch the sunset over the lake and enjoy our family and friends. This local landscaping company with a reputation for beautiful work came to our home and built a slate patio with a stone fire pit. I love the result. It is a special setting that our family will enjoy for years to come.
I told the landscaping team that they had made a lasting difference at our lake home – and we are deeply grateful for their work.
One person piped up and said, “Wow, I never thought of our work that way. You know we build things like your patio and fire pit and then we leave the property and never see you again. It’s hard to imagine that our work brings you that much joy. That feels really good.”
It reminded me of an often-told story about a lady who walked by a construction site each day. The first day she asked a worker, “What are you doing?” He replied back, “I’m laying bricks.” The next day, she asked the same question of another worker and his answer was, “I’m building a wall.” On the third day, she asked yet another worker and he said, “I’m building a cathedral.”
I shared this story with the team and then asked: “What if you imagined the impact of your work on the people who live in these homes where you plant trees and flowers or build patios and fire pits? How would you work differently if you thought about the JOY you bring to families for years to come?”
Watching their eyes light up was the highlight of my week.
You could see their attitude towards leadership and work change in a heartbeat.
Suddenly they were thinking:
- My work helps families enjoy their backyards.
- The flowers I plant make people smile.
- The fire pit is a place where families gather and make memories.
- The patio is a place where our customers find rest and relaxation.
These leaders, when they imagined the impact of their work, felt better about themselves. They felt better about the contributions they make, and they felt better about the way they spend their summer days. And as they left my house, they were smiling and thinking about the ways that they could serve their customers well in the weeks ahead.
What about you? Can you imagine the positive outcomes that your work can have on others? Are you laying bricks or building a cathedral? Would you do your work differently if you thought of it differently?
In our work, people rarely come to us and tell us the impact we have on their day – or the impact we have on their lives. But we can – and we do – have an impact.