Use What You Have

Leaders use whatever they have to get the job done.

A crazed man started banging on the front door, “Bam! Bam!” He hollered a garbled message. It sounded as if he was demanding to speak with someone in the apartment (or who he thought was in the apartment).  “I want Joe!” he demanded. “Bam! Bam!” The door pulsated with each strike. It seemed like it was about to come off its hinges. He was serious and showed no signs of relenting.

I looked through the peephole and saw a tall, unkempt character. His clothes had obviously never been acquainted with laundry detergent. You could almost smell the stench just by looking at him. His eyes were bloodshot and he was having a bad hair day. Lights were on, but nobody was home. He continued the assault on the door followed by another garbled message, “Bla do waf nos boggle. And I mean it!” He said absolutely nothing better than anybody I had ever heard.

But this was no laughing matter. We lived in public housing projects at the time. This is the place where people got shot, held up at gun point, stabbed and beaten on a regular basis. I was home with my mom and one of my sisters. My brother was away at school; my dad out working. I knew if the disturbed guy broke through the door, we were in trouble. After all, he towered over me.

Then out of nowhere it hit me, “use the Force Luke.” Just kidding! But it did dawn on me to use my voice. Growing up, I loved doing voice impressions. My family got tired of hearing my impersonation of prominent Americans like President Ronald Reagan and Dr. Martin Luther King as well as fictitious characters like Darth Vader or Porky Pig. But this time my impersonations came in handy.  As if I was an Academy Award-winning movie star, I got into character preparing to bellow a huge, powerful voice of a giant’s giant. I struck the door back at him, “Pow! Bam! Boom!” Then roared as I struck: “Get  – Bam – Away – Boom – From – Pow – The – Bang – Door!”

Instantaneously, the deranged giant turned into a tiny lamb. His head dropped as his shoulders shrunk. “OK man,” he squealed. “OK.” He slowly backed up and left the apartment building. My mom and sister laughed. I was relieved. I did not have much. I did not have my brother or dad to back me up, a weapon or martial arts training. But I used what I had – a silly voice impression of a fictitious person – to accomplish my goal of protecting my family.

In these tough times, leaders don’t have much. They don’t have many employees. They don’t have lots of equipment. They have neither lots of time nor money. Nevertheless, leaders should learn to use what they have to get the job done. Focus on what you do have as opposed to what you do not have. Learn to capitalize on the few resources at your disposal better than anybody ever has. And, above all, remember that your employees are your greatest asset. As you discover how to tap into their brilliance, you will realize that you actually have more than you ever did before. © 2011 Clear Picture Leadership, LLC.

How does this article help you in your professional or personal life? Please share your thoughts on this by adding a comment below.

Art Prints


3 responses to “Use What You Have

  1. Jonathan,

    Thanks for reminding me that, even if economic times are grim, I still have a choice to use those opportunities and resources which are at my disposal. Great post!

    Until next time…Go Boldly!
    Dino Herbert
    Host of Hero Entrepreneurs radio show &
    author of the forthcoming “Business Jump School: 15 Drills You Must Master Before Starting Any Business”

  2. Jonathan,
    Thanks for the inspiring blog about the power of our voices. Kouzes and Posner have a great example of this in their book Encouraging the Heart. They talk about the power of the voice and touch in helping premature infants, and in motivating employees. It’s worth a read.

    Keep up the wonderful work.

    Adrian Gostick, Author, The Carrot Principle

  3. I really loved the article and it made several great points. Using your voice is a great leadership key, but it also has to be combined with the courage to use it and action (like hitting the door).

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