In the history of the world there is only one man who has won two gold medals in the pole vault. His name is Bob Richards. He accomplished the feat in 1952 and 1956. Richards who went on to become a minister was known as the “Pole Vaulting Pastor” and the “Vaulting Vicar” during his days as an Olympian.
After his second gold medal, Richards, while being interviewed made the following shocking statement. “I’d estimate five million men could have beaten me in the pole vault the years I won it, at least five million.” When asked by the reporter why no one did if there were so many who could have, Richards simply stated, “They never picked up a pole.”
Richards went on to explain how millions were stronger, faster, and more built to vault than he was. What they lacked however was initiative.
One leader I know who never lacked initiative is my Dad. Today happens to be his birthday. He, like Richards, picked up the pole. Or in my Dad’s case he “climbed the poles.”
My Dad spent 35 years rising through the ranks with Georgia Power. He started out working on a line crew climbing poles to make sure electricity was delivered as promised. He ended up being a District Manager which was unheard of considering he never had the opportunity to attend college. Others may have had a better pedigree, but my Dad was unmatched at “picking up the pole.”
While he never received any gold medals for his efforts, he does now have a substation named after him. The reason? Initiative.
My dad showed up everyday. He did what he said he would do. And he delivered more than just electricity. He was, and still is, a friend to all. (BTW – He worked the second shift too, see i2i blog from 10.1.10)
Initiative is often overlooked when it comes to leadership. But those who possess it rise to the top. Bob Richards and my Dad are both proof.
If you want to be a great leader, you have to pick up the pole.
Happy birthday Pop!
Who is your hero when it comes to initiative?
Randy is an author, speaker, executive coach, and the CEO of InteGREAT Leadership. He invests his time encouraging leaders around the world.