In 1973 I met a man who changed my life. His name was Thomas D. Willhite and to some he was a con-man and a charlatan, while to many others he was a gifted teacher of salesmanship, leadership and right living. So enthralled was I with Tom and his teachings when I attended his 4-day personal development seminar while a graduate student in Hawaii that I subsequently left my Ph.D. dissertation and joined his growing seminar company.
The ensuing five years, first as a seminar facilitator (traveling each month between Los Angeles, Honolulu, Phoenix and Milwaukee) and later as a Vice President were filled with incredible learning, mostly about me – my capabilities, my strengths and weaknesses, my passions, and my skills of facilitation and teaching others.
Tom was always teaching. When we were working on his ranch in Northern California cleaning out the stables he would make us all pick up piles of horse manure with our bare hands as he reminded us that everything is made from the same source and we are all connected to everything. He would then talk about how this understanding could help us stop negatively judging others.
One of his favorite teachings concerned the responsibility of leadership. “Leadership”, said Tom, “is not a right or a position, it is a responsibility”. And when asked how to best determine whether or not we were carrying out our leadership role with responsibility, he had a specific answer.
“If it feels good tomorrow, do it today!”
Think about this statement. “If it feels good tomorrow, do it today!” To me that is the ultimate test a leader must apply before making any decision or taking any action. “Will I be proud tomorrow of what I did today? If my actions today made the headlines of CNN tomorrow, would I be proud?” The next time you are about to berate someone for a mistake, think about this statement. The next time you are about to react during a moment of anger or insecurity, think about this statement.
To me it has always been an excellent leadership litmus test and more than once I have had to rethink my actions as a result of this simple, yet profound leadership test. Try it out for yourself.
Tight Lines . . .