My friend Todd Thompson tells this story…
“My twins Annie and Emma were not quite 4 years old. The three of us were at a Home Depot in Chandler, AZ. We rounded a corner in the back of the store when I look toward the far end of the aisle. Rolling toward us, dressed in boots, jeans, a western shirt and cowboy hat is a paraplegic man in a wheelchair.
Before I can say anything, the girls bolt toward him. It looks like the three of them will meet in the middle by the PVC and sprinkler system parts.
It’s just the four of us in the aisle. I can’t yell them back without making the cowboy feel like I’m waving my kids away from him. But I’ve yet to have a talk with the girls about being tactful in situations like this, what to say and what not to say. As if a 4-year old would understand anyway. It was one of those parenting moments where you bite your lip and hope for the best.
They did meet in the middle. Annie and Emma applied their brakes directly in front of the cowboy, forcing him to stop. I’m bracing for what’s about to happen, running a list of potential apologies through my brain.
It’s a three second stand off that feels like eternity.
With a Texas size wave of the arm and a voice to match, Annie shouts, “Howdy, partner!”
I saw the wheelchair.
Annie saw the cowboy.”
As leaders looking at our team, what do we see?
Do we see an employee who fills a slot on the organizational chart? Or do we see a person who, with some training, can grow into a position they never thought they could attain?
Do we see a timid team member? Or someone with potential who needs help killing their fear of failure?
Do we see mistakes and missteps? Or do we see opportunities for redirection and growth?
Do we see our team for what they are? Or for what they can become?
As leaders looking at our team, do we see a static status quo? Or a group to grow?
As leaders, it’s our job to point the way. What we see when we look will determine our direction and theirs.