Of Elephants and Leadership

Recently I read a quote that I have been contemplating ever since: You don’t let the guy with the broom control how many elephants are in the parade. Pretty witty and thought provoking stuff.  I came across that in Seth Godin’s blog which has become a daily read.  The gentleman credited with the quote is Merlin Mann.  I stumbled across his blog’s 43 Folders and 5ives .  I’m new to them but they are both introspective and insanely funny.

But back to the quote.  I began this week to relate this quote to some decisions that I need to make at work.  How often do we consider the lowest common denominator when we make a decision?  Do we think about the crap that we will need to clean up or do we think of the gallantry of 100 marching elephants?  Do we shy away from making big decisions because the fallout will be too much or even that the fallout will be (period)?  It’s way easier to cancel the elephants and replace them with firetrucks because we’ve always had firetrucks.  Sometimes the thing that makes the show, the product, the lesson, the experience, comes with some crap.  As leaders, we’ve got to be able to handle the fallout; the crap.

I guess to me this quote means to make the best decision based on what’s right – in my case what’s right for students – and be prepared to pick up an extra broom if need be.  As Godin says in his contemplating of the quote:  It is some people’s job to create commotion.  No commotion; no job.


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