David Or Paul Bunyan? Chisel Away What’s Not You
You need a vision to start with
There’s a parable of sorts attributed to Michelangelo who, when asked how he was able to so beautifully carve the statue of David, responded that he merely cut away everything that wasn’t David.
That’s a wonderful depiction of focus that we can all take with us. If we could just cut away all that’s not what we want to be or accomplish, we might all be masters of business.
It’s silly to think that because of peer pressure or a desire not to offend that Michelangelo would’ve added a duck to his sculpture or perhaps put David in the newest model chariot with velvet-ride suspension. Yet many of us keep adding things to our business because someone else thinks we should, or we fill our calendar with non-value-add appointments.
What if you took a chisel to your business and tried to carve out the essential elements, those things that made it more David than Paul Bunyan and his blue ox? What would you cut? (A great exercise for your calendar, by the way!)
Clearly you’d need a vision to start with. If Michelangelo had just begun whacking away at a large chunk of marble with no vision of the ultimate finished product, he’d have ended up with a pile of rubble. Yet too often we end up in our office, slaving away at a mountain of work with no real vision of what we’re trying to accomplish. We don’t leave a pile of marble, but rather squandered capital, disenfranchised co-workers and disappointed customers.
I’ve had the good fortune to visit Florence, Italy, and see many pieces by masters of the art world. For a guy who can’t draw a stick man without a template, their artistry blows me away! I’ve also had the good fortune to work with business leaders who’ve created artistic masterpieces by crafting a vision, choosing the right material (i.e., people and strategy versus marble) and executing brilliantly.
I’ve also seen people in leadership roles grab the hammer and chisel and just start pounding without a plan. Doesn’t work so well. …
Todd coaches CEOs to higher levels of success. He is a former CEO and has led teams as large as 7,000 people. Todd is the author of, Never Kick a Cow Chip On A Hot Day: Real Lessons for Real CEOs and Those Who Want To Be (Morgan James Publishing).