Leadership – All It Takes is 5 Ax Swings a Day. I have a confession to make: I am a leadership junkie. I read anything I can get my hands on that has to do with how to be a better leader. If you want me to read your latest post, put the word “leadership” in the title and I guarantee you, I’ll take a quick look-see.
Why am I so intrigued with this topic? I want to become a better leader myself and I want to equip people around me to become better leaders. I’m not necessarily talking about positional leadership; a manager’s title doesn’t make someone a leader. I’m talking about being the kind of person that demonstrates natural inherent leadership traits regardless of current position.
I have a few nationally-recognized communicators that I follow. John Maxwell is one of them. John speaks on many topics related to leadership, including what he calls, “The Rule of 5.” He tells the story of a large oak tree. It’s a parable, really – a made-up story with a life lesson attached:
Suppose you have a large oak tree in your backyard, decades old and two feet in diameter. The problem is, it’s dead and it needs to come down. The bigger problem is, you only have a hand ax to cut it down. It might seem like an overwhelming task – so daunting that you put it off. After all, what’s the point of starting? John puts it like this: if you will commit to go into the backyard every day and faithfully take 5 ax swings at that tree (only 5, because it’s all you have time for), what will eventually happen? That tree will eventually come down, right? It will take time and you may not see results right away, but eventually, your persistent effort will pay off.
The same thing goes for any looming task on our “to do” list. If you’re like me, you put it off. It seems too large, too messy, too complicated to tackle, so we move it to the bottom of the list until the next day…. and the next day…. and the next.
Instead, if we would make up our minds to take 5 diligent ax swings at that task each and every day, we would begin to see results. For leaders, a primary challenge is to identify the five activities most essential to success, and then to practice them daily. The Rule of 5 doesn’t ask: “What are the five things I would like to do?” Rather, the Rule of 5 asks: “What are the five things I must do in order to be successful?”
Over the next week, carve out time to consider the five activities most essential to your success. Use them to create your own Rule of 5. Choose to establish a pattern of “5 ax swings a day” toward your goal. Every single day, get up and take 5 swings toward your goal. Every. Single. Day.
Kay Lynn Clay, Senior Manager, Corporate Relocation
MoveBuilder, an ArcBest Brand