Leaders do not walk past trash in their worlds. There are two people in my world that have set this example for me. Through their actions, not their words, they inspired me to emulate their behavior. I watched my pastor Mike Linch and good friend Andy Duncan do this. Whether they knew I was watching or not. From their vehicle to the front door of the office, they collect trash on the way.
This week we dive into this concept of don’t walk past trash and seven leadership lessons we can learn from it. It does not matter who you are, your status, or where you rank in an organization. This all can apply to you.
Shows Others You Are Not Above It
Mike and Andy are not just anyone. Mike is the Senior Pastor of NorthStar Church in our community and host of the Linch with a Leader Podcast. Andy is the owner of two Chick-fil-A’s in our community. Both are both community leaders in Acworth, Georgia. They could easily walk past trash. Both could take the approach that they have people to do that and walk right on by. Instead, they choose to show their teams they are not above it.
Little Things Make a Big Difference
Our attention can be overly focused on the monumental tasks facing us in our worlds. It is the little things that make a big difference. A selfless act as simple as picking up a piece of trash can have a huge ripple effect in a community. As happened with me, I watched other leaders do it, then I began to emulate the behavior. They impacted me and I hope to impact others. Imagine a world where if every person never walked past a piece of trash on the ground. It would make a big difference.
It Demonstrates You Care
As leaders in our local communities, the principle of don’t walk past trash demonstrates that you care. It means that you take pride in your world, whatever it may be. Schools, parks, businesses, churches, you name it. Practice this principle daily to demonstrate that you care.
Walking Past It Creates Apathy
Malcolm Gladwell writes about The Broken Window Theory in his book The Tipping Point. A theory developed by criminologists James Wilson and George Kelling in the early 1980’s. The theory is that a broken window in a community left unrepaired creates apathy. A feeling that no one cares. Trash left on the ground has a similar effect. People become used to it and expect it. That is not a good thing.
Actions are Greater Than Words
People end up learning more by watching you than listening to you. Your words must align with your actions or people will not follow you. I read a great quote in George W. Bush’s book 41 about his father, George H.W. Bush. Bush, Jr. said his father used to say, “Preach the gospel at all times and use words if necessary.” This is so true. People are watching. Actions are greater than words.
You Will Notice A Lot More Trash
If you hold yourself to this standard, here is the challenge. You will notice a lot more trash on the ground. It will take you longer to get from point A to point B than it used to. Compare it to when you buy a car and think no one has the same color. Then you start noticing all the people who have that same color car as you. Now, you will notice more trash on the ground.
The Principle Is Transferable
What if we chose to apply this simple principle of don’t walk past trash beyond just trash? What if we chose to not walk past that employee who just lost a loved one, the team member who is celebrating a birthday, or the person who seeks the smallest bit of encouragement? Then, what if we stopped, interrupted our day, and picked them up? Offered the conversation they needed to have or just be that someone with the ear to listen. Don’t walk past people who need you.
Let me be extremely clear here. Should you practice the principle of don’t not walk past trash so others see you do it? Nope, absolutely not! You should do it because it is the right thing to do.
Character is who you are when no one is looking. This principle of don’t walk past trash should apply when no one is looking and when everyone is looking. It should be grounded in who we are, not what we do.
How could you make the community, the organization, or the world you live in better by practicing this simple principle. Start today and watch the ripple effects!
Ordinary to Extraordinary Intersection
Are you demonstrating to your team nothing is below you? Do you focus on the little things that make a big difference or the big things that make little difference? Do you care or are you apathetic? Are your actions as a leader aligning with your words? Who could you interrupt your day for and pick up them up?