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The Power of OneOne Person, One Rule, One Month
By John C. Maxwell Stephen R. Graves Thomas G. Addington
Maximum ImpactCopyright © 2007 John C. Maxwell with Stephen R. Graves Thomas G. Addington
All right reserved.
Chapter OneDay 1 The Power of One
The world is moved by highly motivated people, by enthusiasts, by men and women who want something very much or believe very much. -John Gardner
The Power of One means that I treat everyone-no matter his or her position in life-as I would want to be treated.
Mike Abrashoff, author of It's Your Ship: Management Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy, is the epitome of someone who was ready for his golden opportunity when it came and who achieved success by practicing the golden rule. Before Mike took his first command, which was of the USS Benfold, he had already been successful. He had graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. He had excelled as an officer, attaining the rank of captain after sixteen years, and had worked as military assistant to Dr. William J. Perry when he was Secretary of Defense. But when Mike took command of the Benfold, he saw it as a rare opportunity to do something different, to use a Golden-Rule approach to leadership. Mike says:
The first sixteen years of my career, I went for the gold braid. I had success, but it wasn't unusual success. The last two I went for the golden rule. I took command of the ship and took command of my life. Before, I was working according to what I thought were the organization's expectations. But while working for Secretary of Defense Perry, I saw a departure from that kind of thinking. When I saw my predecessor leaving the ship, I thought about what my departure would be like. The navy is like a tree full of monkeys. If you're at the top of the tree, all you see when you look down is a bunch of smiling faces looking up to you. When you're at the bottom of the tree and you look up, you have a different kind of view!
Mike decided to put himself in his sailors' shoes. He interviewed every sailor on his ship individually to find out what they valued, and then he made changes to add value to his sailors. For example, he sent the ship's cooks to culinary school and offered college courses aboard ship. He asked his officers to treat the new arrivals as they would want people to treat their children. And he empowered everyone-officer and enlisted person alike-to make decisions and work to make their ship the best in the Navy, trusting them and encouraging them with the words "It's your ship."
"Good began to happen when I began going for the golden rule," says Mike. "I put people instead of promotion first. And as a result, I was paid a thousand times over." That's what I call making the most of a golden opportunity!
1. Practicing the Power of One often requires stepping out from the normal march of conventional thinking and looking at life from a different perspective. 2. I must learn to do things because they are right, not because they might come back to benefit me. 3. It is impossible to practice the Power of One without focusing on other people. 4. Seeing a person practice the Power of One is contagious. 5. Treating others the way you wish they would treat your children, parents, or best friend is a great way to begin practicing the Power of One. 6. Often we have to unlearn certain habits and tendencies when it comes to reacting and treating people the right way.
There's no such thing as business ethics-there's only ethics. People try to use one set of ethics for their professional lives, another for their spiritual lives, and still another at home with their families. Circumstantial ethics get them into trouble. Ethics are ethics. If you desire to be ethical, you live using one across-the-board standard.
Mike Abrashoff realized the need for a standard of ethics. And taking charge of his life was critical to his success. So he purposely set some new guidelines and boundaries to guide the way he treats other people. He said, "This is the way I want this to go, and this is the way I want to act." Then he learned to follow those guidelines and reaped the rewards of a well-ordered life.
To further illustrate the need for clear guidelines, think about how a builder erects a house. He doesn't just nail a few pieces of wood together at random and pour cement where it pleases him. He doesn't cut holes into the sheet rock for windows without thinking through the placement. If he did, the result would be a disaster. He builds from a blueprint before the first hammer swings.
Do you have a plan for your life? Have you set boundaries to follow that outline your every move? Mike Abrashoff did. And that's what we need to do in order to live a powerful-and intentional-life.
What motivates you? What fuels your engine to act the way you do, say the things you say, and respond the way you respond?
The other day a friend and I were lamenting the trials that used-car repairs bring to a father. My friend and his son had recently bought a used Honda. As used-car stories go, within a month it needed an emergency-room visit to the local mechanic. The Wrench Doctor diagnosed a bad carburetor. My friend's options: buy a new carburetor, buy a used one, or have the mechanic rebuild the shot carburetor. Or take the advice of his young son.
The nonmechanical young teenager said to his dad, "Well, who needs a carburetor anyway?" The dad shook his head and said, "You must understand that your car will not run without the carburetor. It is not the most important thing to an engine, but it is pretty central." They chose a new carburetor and the boy is back on the road.
Central to the human machine is the "motivator." That is the piece of internal equipment in all of us that signals our impulse to go a little further than normal, to step in and get involved when we really don't have the time or resources. Our motivator is the seat of our emotions and our wills. It drives our behavior and steers our dreams. It is the thing that fuels our desires, catalyzes our energy, and commands our actions. Without a smooth running "motivator," it is hard to practice the Power of One.
Adjusting Your "Motivator"
Practicing the Power of One often requires stepping out from the normal march of conventional thinking and looking at life from a different perspective. Mike Abrashoff reversed his approach to identifying with his troops. He chose to start from the bottom up, instead of dictating from the top down, by asking his guys what they needed from the ship and what the ship needed from them. Flipping upside down his idea of how to lead people brought great rewards.
His team knew he cared about them; he learned what mattered to them, and hence was able to lead them more easily and provide them with value in their jobs. The bottom line: Mike learned to focus on other people first. And that's the key tenet of practicing the Power of One. He adjusted his motivator so that he was energized by helping others and doing the good, the right, and the true.
When Mike started practicing the Power of One, he realized the need to get in touch with his sailors to find out what they valued. This isn't a new thought, but it isn't always an easy task to accomplish. For example, a CEO buddy of mine makes it a practice to go on a field trip to the different layers of his organization a couple of times a year. He struggles to find the time for this exercise-and often wonders how necessary it is-but he does it religiously anyway. Why? It puts him in touch with the people of his organization in a more personal way. He sees them doing their jobs, interacting in their surroundings. Instead of seeing his workers only at staff meetings where they're prepared to speak in a specific way, this CEO goes into his workers' elements and sees what they really do. And in this exercise he learns more about them, about what they need to better do their jobs, and about the people they serve-something you can't learn sitting in a corner office with no contact with the people below. Does it really pay off to treat people that way? J. W. Marriott Jr., CEO of Marriott International, Inc., thinks so.
That is what made one fellow say that practicing the Power of One really is the Ethical Circle of Life. The Power of One is not complicated at all. It is simply the internal motivation that says I am going to treat you the way I would want to be treated-all the time-regardless.
Launch "Operation Regardless"
"Operation Regardless" is your commitment to treating everyone-all the time-correctly. It is a determination to alter the way you look at people and situations. Many times we operate with a filter that adjusts our responses depending upon the situation or the person we are dealing with. The Power of One means that I treat everyone-no matter his or her position in life-as I would want to be treated.
Do you have a sliding scale of treating some people one way and other people differently? Do some situations push you to slip into unethical terrain? Do you treat all people-all the time-correctly ... regardless?
Regardless of Age or Position
Are you as consistent with your treatment of new hires as you are the old heads? Do you treat the beautiful/powerful people in life the same as those who carry no apparent power? Do you give the respect and honor deserved to those seniors in your company and community or do you write them off as space takers?
Regardless of Consequence or Credit
Sometimes people think they can justify their actions by forecasting the outcome of a situation-kind of like the end justifies the means. Sorry, folks, but that won't fly for the Golden Life. You act ethically no matter what. Period. Do you only act ethically when it benefits you, rather than a coworker? That doesn't count as ethical living either. Being ethical means being ethical at all times.
Regardless Whether It Is a Small Thing or a Big Thing
Size of action doesn't matter. Being honest does. Don't apply ethics just when working with large sums of money, important customers, and deal-making issues. Apply the same standards across the board, whether it's putting a full sixty cents into the snack box at work or turning in an invoice for an hourly job. The issues are the same; the scale and shadow are the only things that change.
Regardless Whether It Is a Public Thing or a Private Thing
Sometimes it's harder to do the right thing when it's done in front of a crowd. Peer pressure is alive and kicking, even in the corporate world. Stand up for what's right, even if it means standing apart from your peers. At least it will be for something good and honorable.
When no one's looking, no one will ever find out, or no one cares, it's easy to pull off immoral or unethical practices. But does that make it any more right? No.
Let's do a scorecard:
How would you rate your "motivator" in these situations? How motivated are you to practice the Power of One with everyone all the time?
Situation-Regardless Running Needs a Major Smoothly Tune-Up Overhaul If the person is powerful and important ______ ______ ______ If the person is a superior ______ ______ ______ If the person is a subordinate ______ ______ ______ If the deal is a small thing ______ ______ ______ If the deal is a big thing ______ ______ ______ If the deal is quiet and in privacy ______ ______ ______ If the deal is going to cost me something ______ ______ ______ If I get the credit ______ ______ ______ If I don't get the credit ______ ______ ______
Adopt the Golden Ruler
Begin to measure your every action against a single question. Don't overcomplicate it and don't underestimate it. If One Person will take the One Rule and practice it for One Month, amazing moral traction happens. There is no environment where the ethical waterline will not rise. There is something very powerful in doing the good, the right, and the true. The golden ruler measures our conduct against the One Rule. For the next thirty days, ask yourself this question as often as possible: Am I treating others the way I would want them to treat me?
Take the time to post this Rule in as many places as you can to help steer your thinking toward it. Name five prominent places in your life orbit that you can post the One Rule and leave it there for one month. 1. _________________________________________________________ 2. _________________________________________________________ 3. _________________________________________________________ 4. _________________________________________________________ 5. _________________________________________________________
I have had people say, "The rule works OK most of the time, but you just don't know my particular situation. It is rather complex and complicated." If the Rule doesn't seem to work as effectively as you wish, let me give you three questions that actually stand alongside and even behind the One Rule. If you were to turn the golden ruler over, this is what you would find: three shorter questions of measurement.
Is it right? Is it good? Is it true?
Remember, seeing someone practice the Power of One is contagious. Do you believe that? Really? It only takes one person practicing the Power of One to start a trend.
Be that one person. Make a difference.
He who reforms himself, has done much toward reforming others; and one reason why the world is not reformed, is, because each would have others make a beginning, and never thinks of himself doing it. -Thomas Adams
Excerpted from The Power of One by John C. Maxwell Stephen R. Graves Thomas G. Addington Copyright © 2007 by John C. Maxwell with Stephen R. Graves Thomas G. Addington. Excerpted by permission.
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