Your hands speaks volumes about you! I personally work with my hands everyday of my life. People often times ask me what I do for a living, and I say, “I manage a preventive maintenance shop.” And they respond by saying they figured, based on how my hands look. Hands are a very important part of our body, so much so that we take for granted many times the functionality and value that they provide for us each and everyday of our lives.
In John C. Maxwell’s book, Thinking For a Change, in the cartoon, Charlie Brown is holding up his hands and telling Lucy, “These are the hands which may someday accomplish great things. These are hands which may someday do marvelous works! They may build mighty bridges, or heal the sick, or hit home runs, or write soul-stirring novels! These are the hands which may someday change the course of destiny!” Lucy looks at his hands and simply says, “They’ve got jelly on them.” (1)
Your hands are a big part of your dreams and your ability to lead. As a kid I would play games, throw rocks, and build tree houses. My hands then began to write equations, take test, and wash dishes at a part-time job. Now my hands work everyday, hold my babies, and point others in the right direction. I have great plans for my hands, I want them to do great things and make great things happen. Let me give you a few thoughts on how you can use your hands to lead.
Remember There Are No Handouts
As a leader we should not expect any handouts or freebies. Do not get me wrong, sometimes the pendulum swings our way and a gift will fall right into our laps. I for one will take full advantage of it and exploit it to the best of my abilities. But for the most part nothing is for free and we should fully expect to earn our way to the top.
I never was a person who wanted a handout. I was a cafeteria worker. I’m not too proud to ask the Best Western manager to give me a job. I have cleaned homes.
Old-timers and even a great majority of the people today understand this concept, that permanent handouts can cripple a person’s ability to lead. Here are a few things to help you climb your way to the top:
- Accept responsibility- Understand where you are at right now. You might be at the bottom. Or you may not be an effective leader with a dysfunctional team. Accept your position and situation.
- Develop a plan- What is your plans to grow as a leader? What is your projection of where you are going? How are you going to get to the top? Be specific, be realistic, but be optimistic.
- Work your butt off- Do not accept handouts! WORK YOUR BUTT OFF! MAKE IT HAPPEN!
Handouts will do nothing but weaken you and keep you down. Do not accept the way things are. Do not accept the status quo! Do not wait for something to happen, do something about it!
Getting Your Hands Dirty
You do not become a leader from laziness! Some people believe that work is a four-letter curse word. Look at all the great leaders that we read about and I promise you that one of their shining characteristics were that they worked extremely hard.
“Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom in the grave, whither thou goest.”
You must determine what it is you want. Do you want a good marriage? Do you want your congregation to grow? Do you want to meet a new sales goal? Do you want a nice bass boat? Do you want straight A’s?
Whatever it is you want, you need to wrapped your hands around the plow, put your nose down, and drive forward. You will break a sweat, be tested and tried, broken and beaten! But let consistency be your friend! Let patience be your confidant! Embrace discipline as your brother and work as your sister!
Managing and leading can be a dirty job. Dealing with people and personalities can give you callouses and blisters. Leading your family in this crazy generation can litter your body with bumps and bruises. But in the end it can be said of you that your were not afraid of a little work. You gave it everything you got!
I learned the value of hard work by working hard.
I am reminded of the early days of working in the preventive maintenance industry, I would be working with a lot of plastic pieces underneath the hood of a car. Inevitably, I would break something and have to go and explain myself to the boss. He would just shake his head and say “Finesse! Finesse! Finesse! It’s just plastic! Be easy with it!”
Leadership is a lot like this. Working with people takes lots of finesse. I liken it to an artist that has the most delicate touch. Most artist do not use hammers and shovels to paint a masterpiece, but rather use the slightest stroke and pinpoint accuracy when placing the brush to the canvas.
Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.
Here a few quick thoughts to help you with finesse:
- Have a passion for being a leader
- Seek mastery in all you do
- Never be afraid of failure, just get another canvas
Finesse requires an expert touch from years of training, years of failure and success, knowledge of the paints and canvas, and years of taking raw material and applying them with such vision, passion, and skills.
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.
Finally, as a leader, do not accept handouts, do not be afraid to get your hands dirty, and remember that finesse will create the masterpiece. Look now at both of your hands and ask yourself, “What am I doing with these hands, that will make me a great leader, a great parent, or a great student?” You can be a hands on leader and truly make a difference. Now go for it!