By: Gary Bergenske
Leaders, where do they come from? How would you describe a good leader? I’m sure if I were to ask each of you what it is that best describes a good leader I would get a multitude of different answers. Some of you might say that a good leader is someone that really knows how to motivate people, someone that can really get you going. Someone else might say that a good leader is someone that is really organized, someone that really dots all the I’s and crosses all the T’s. Someone else might say that a good leader is someone that is a good people person, someone that is an excellent communicator. A man’s daughter once said, “My Dad is a good leader because he is tall”, huh, I don’t think that make anyone a good leader.
The one I like the best, the one I really think sums up what a good leader is, is this; “A good leader is someone that takes you to a place that you would not normally go by yourself”. I love that quote, let me say it again, “A good leader is someone that takes you to a place that you would not normally go by yourself”.
So, the next question is this, how does the good leader do this? Well, it’s been said, that a good leader has the ability to stimulate you. So you could say, that a good leader has the ability to “Stimulate you to go to a place you would not normally go by yourself”. I’m sure each of you has someone like this in your life. Surely you had a teacher, or a coach, or a friend that had the ability to get you excited enough that you would do more than you thought you could. This person brought out the best in you, and would stimulate you to the next level.
Another word for that Greek word stimulate, is to aggravate. So you could say, that a good leader has the ability to, “Aggravate you to go to a place you would not normally go by yourself”. I love this one, and I’m sure each of you have had someone like this in your life. Probably an employer or boss in your past, that at times became so aggravating, but when all was said and done, you accomplished more than you thought you could because of his constant aggravation. He may have been annoying, but he had the ability to push you to the next level.
Another word for aggravate is to irritate. This works too, but if you’re married, I suggest you do not try this one on your spouse. You see, if you irritate your spouse too much, no one’s happy. So you could say, that a good leader has the ability to, “Irritate you to go to a place you would not normally go by yourself.” The example I like to use here is my children. In the past they have told me I am the most irritating person in the world, simply because I expect them to do their homework, keep their room clean and to do their chores. And yet, through my irritating them, they become better people, they learned responsibility, and may become good leaders themselves in the future.
All this brings me to a story about cod fish. For the longest time, I thought cod fish were those little four inch square fish between two McDonald’s buns. But in all honesty, cod fish have been caught in great numbers for many, many years in the northeastern part of the United States. They were so plentiful, there was no limit to the amount you could catch, it was limitless. So many years ago, these men got together and made a plan. They figured if they would catch all the cod fish they could, then clean them, package them, and freeze them they could ship them all over the United States and could make a fortune. So that’s just what they did, but it didn’t take long till they found out the cod fish just didn’t taste the same, just didn’t have that nice white, flakey meat after they had been frozen.
So they came up with this great idea, this is a true story. What they did is this; they built these large vats, and had them mounted onto train cars. They would then fill them with water, and add the cod fish. They would then send them by train all the way across the nation. They would arrive alive at their destination. But they soon found out, the cod fish still just didn’t taste as good, they still did not have that good white tasty meat. You see the cod fish were getting lazy on their long ride across the nation, their muscles were beginning to deteriorate. Think about this, the last time you went for an all day ride, what happened? First thing, when you got out of the car, you had to stretch, your muscles were a little sore, and you were a little stiff as you walked around. Well, that’s what was happening to the cod fish, they just were not the same.
So some genius came up with this fantastic idea, I love this, it’s just great. I never knew it, but the natural enemy of the cod fish is the catfish. So what they did is this, in every one of those large vats of cod fish, they would sprinkle in a few catfish. The catfish would chase those cod fish all around in those large vats. The catfish stimulated, aggravated, and irritated them all the way to their destination, so when they arrived, they were in the best shape of their lives.
In closing, I would like to ask this of each of you, that all of you here be the catfish in your organization. As leaders, go out and stimulate, and aggravate, and irritate everyone else to be the best, the very best that they can be. Be a Leader!
“A good leader is some one that takes you to a place
that you would not normally go by yourself”