Food for Thought-3 Leadership Lessons from the Brothers Grimm

KeinOrt_Doppelportrait_Brueder_GrimmJakob and Wilhelm Grimm were brothers, linguists, and creators of modern memory.  What we think of when we picture Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, and most of our other beloved fairy tales were all collected, compiled, and cleaned up by Jake and Will.  These two unassuming German academics have helped shape the western imagination for generations by taking the tales they knew and making them resonate around the world.  When people can do that in their lifetime and continue to have an impact for centuries after they are gone, there must be something leaders can learn from Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm.

1.  One feather is of no use to me, I need the whole bird.  Why make a small impression on the world around you?  You can’t fly with one feather.  If you’re going to make an impact on your community and the world, you may need to start small but you can still make a big impact.  Why start with one feather, when you can take the whole bird and do so much more with the resources at your disposal.  If we use everything at our fingertips; people, funds, volunteers, and facilities even the smallest recipe and be prepared into a grand feast.

2.  “Some men are born to good luck: all they do or try to do comes right.”  This is not us.  Leaders of any kind can’t count on luck.  That’s what the brothers are trying to tell us.  When it comes to being an effective leader (whether of a committee, team, church, or your name it) there is no such thing as luck, it’s just mathematical probability.  We make our own “luck” with hard work, preparation, research, and training.

3.  In the old days, wishing still worked.  Even when they were compiling their tales and writing their stories both brothers were clear, we live in a time when wishing no longer works.  As leaders can’t count on luck, so they can’t simply wish themselves into better situations or wish their problems condemned into some netherworld.  On many days, I wish many of things would go away.  The most difficult thing to do is to hop in the car to go see someone and face a problem head on.  That is the only real way to come to terms with something.  If not, we find ourselves, wishing we had done something different.  That is the worst kind of wishing of all.