Two Cab Drivers by Stephen Covey
When I was in Germany, I remember talking with two cab drivers. One was an older gentleman, and the other was a young man. The older cab driver was longing for the old days. As he drove us around Berlin, he described the awfulness of all this so-called “new freedom,” and how he now has much less opportunity. The younger cab driver looked at the same exact world, and yet he was excited about the opportunities. He was thinking creatively about how he might improve his condition. The other was trying to maintain the old position.
These two cab drivers are like two executives, one accommodating the new realities and the other opposing all change. One leads a young company that’s aggressive, fast and opportunistic; the other leads an older company that is time-bound, filled with archaic structures and systems, and blind to new opportunities. Cultures tend to flow from the reactive or proactive tendencies of the leadership. Organizations tend to be shadows of their founders and current leaders.
The childlike leader with a proactive nature might see adversity as an opportunity for adventure, play, fun and freedom, whereas an old leader might see it as potential risk, disaster or death. In a snowstorm, the child sees a time to play, but the father, the person in the ultimate seat of responsibility, is often weighed down by the realities of having to shovel the walks and put chains on the tires. That’s why it often takes a complementary team to lead and manage.
After President Clinton gave his speech on NAFTA in front of George Bush, it was then the former president’s turn to speak. When he got up, he just gave a very authentic expression, “I now know why you were elected and I was not.” It’s that ability to speak enthusiastically about seizing the future, the excitement and glory of change, and of celebrating change and loving it.
Genuine excitement over change can only come when you have a deep sense of who you are, what you want to accomplish, what your agenda is and how you feel about things. We need to have the attitude that the future is here, and that things are going to change. We need to recognize and run with opportunity and exercise the proactive spirit that we all have inside us as long as we don’t abandon our changeless core principles.
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