Blaze a Trail

by Aaron Jack, Vice President, Director of Development and Marketing

A large reservoir near my home in Quail Creek has hills of varied size. Perfect for sledding in the rare instance of snow in OKC, the hills also represent a great workout opportunity. There are a number of options, but I’ve been pleased to settle on one that balances distance with the challenge of a steep slope. An admitted creature of habit, since choosing my hill I always return to that same starting point. Soon after incorporating the hill into my workouts, I noticed a path was beginning to appear from my steps. Whether the grass is overgrown from the summer rain or brown from a recent freeze, I can always find my spot. I take pride in the fact my hard work has blazed a trail.IMG_4553

Walking home from a recent workout, I reflected on the leadership and legacy lesson from the hill. Our clients have become successful in many ways. With success comes responsibility, and part of that responsibility is to leave a positive impact on our surroundings once we have moved on. Each of us have the chance to blaze our own trail personally and professionally. Three quick leadership/legacy thoughts come to mind:

  • Win the Day. The only way to create impact is one step at a time. I personally grow tired of trite corporate sayings. However, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” is one that stands true to the test of time. The trail on the hill began with a single step, followed by thousands more. The best chance each of us have to influence our future is the opportunity of today. Take the first step.
  • Treat People Well. A simple thing, but sometimes the most difficult principle of all. I recently enjoyed listening to Sam Presti, renowned General Manager of the OKC Thunder, talking about the Thunder’s process of evaluating collegiate players. Certainly talent and basketball ability are the top priority, but Sam also stressed the importance of character in their evaluation process. They take extra time to interview student managers and support staff at the prospect’s university. Why? Because an important part of their evaluation process is how the player treats people — not just those people in leadership positions — but especially the ones that are in subordinate positions.
  • Leadership is Influence – A favorite quote of mine is “People remember 7% of what you say, but they always remember how you made them feel.” The most effective leaders understand this key principle. Influence is not given; it is earned. True leadership transcends title or position. Yes, there will be challenging times, difficult discussions, personnel issues to tackle, and family dynamics to overcome, but how we handle these tough situations defines our ability to positively influence those around us.