When we’re little, we think about getting our first bike and then getting to play with our siblings in their advanced on-line video gaming world. Then we want our own mini iPad and smart phone. When we’re teenagers, we think about that first car and really hope it has sizzling style. As newlyweds, we may think about moving from an apartment to owning a condo and purchasing furniture that is no longer the cast off and more our style. We think not just of having a job but of getting THE job or perhaps building our own personally branded empire as an entrepreneur. Our culture promotes the constant motion of moving up and acquiring things in line with where the socioeconomic level of our life has taken us. We see bigger houses, nicer cars, boats, second homes, finer jewels, and high-end shoes and bags as endorsement symbols of our efforts. The accumulation continues for years and years until one day, there can be an awakening and a recognition of feeling weighed down.
Responsible success requires a regular assessment of stewardship with regards to what has come into our lives. Being a steward simply means that you are in a position to make a decision about what happens next with resources at your disposal. In the case of leading a company, we have financial assets, people with great talent, physical assets, and one of the greatest things to steward of all – dreams and possibility of an organization. It takes all of these components to make it happen with everyone pulling in the right direction. As leaders, we must look to how we can encourage and expand those assets to steward possibility into execution of a new reality. When the leader is not a good steward but simply seen as someone who accumulates for personal gain, or for a few, the action of squandering talent, dreams, and assets becomes a physical weight in companies that kills possibility.
It doesn’t matter whether you are responsible for our nation’s, state’s, or city’s/county’s resources; stockholders; children in our school system; donors to our charities; members in professional or trade associations; your company’s employees; members in our houses of worship, or your family’s assets – as a steward, you carry others’ dreams. There is no greater privilege than others placing themselves, and their desired outcomes, in your hands. There is no greater responsibility than having others look to you for hope, help, and encouragement.
None of us do anything alone, and we must not forget that others count on us; particularly those in leadership positions. They look to us to expand possibility, to look forward and have vision, and to recognize that we are not just in it for ourselves but for the long haul and the many who will come after us. Short-term gratification is just that – short-term. If we live our lives meeting every single want/wish that crosses our minds, we are doomed to never being satisfied. On the one hand, being satisfied can lead a company to complacency. Choosing not to continue to push forward and use resources responsibly in that manner will write a sad story. It’s not the continuous search for innovation that causes challenges – that’s the long-term gain we seek for breakthroughs that enhance possibility. It’s the personal, “I’ve got my own” to step away from as stewards.
At some point, we must move past “the physical” being the source of our sense of accomplishment and recognition. We must find fulfillment in our contributions to our families, society, and our work; from the honor and privilege of being asked to participate and partner with others to build noble dreams. Recognition must resonate in the depths of our being that being blessed with opportunity and assets is having faith placed in us that it will be used for exponential improvements in the world around us. One day, we will all step away from the daily opportunity to be part of creating something, and we should hope that is a day that is not one we seek with great anticipation. Stewarding others’ dreams, when undertaken with the spirit of what a privilege it is to do so, is a reward that exceeds all material gain.
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