“Any time you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he had some help getting there.” – Alex Haley. My mentor Steve shared this quote with me early in my career as he endeavored to impart the wisdom behind it. He not only taught me the ins & outs of strategic planning, theory of constraints and quality management systems, but conveyed to me the larger lessons of humility, gratitude and servant leadership.
While helping me to enhance my value and growth potential through these valuable business skills, Steve kept me grounded by reminding me that I stood on the shoulders of those who facilitated my success - my manager who gave me the opportunity to work on that big project; my peers who rose up through the ranks and taught me the ‘unwritten’ rules of the company culture; the front line employees who readily shared their expertise & improvement ideas with me; the administrative staff who pulled data, ran reports and responded quickly to my miscellaneous requests; the HR partner who provided me the feedback about my ‘blind spots’; my supportive spouse who picked me back up when I faced setbacks; my direct reports who performed their roles with excellence so that I could execute my role effectively. The list goes on and on and on.
It’s been 20 years since Steve and I worked together and we now live on opposite sides of the country. I don’t rely on him like I did back then, but I sure do appreciate having him as a trusted advisor, mentor and friend these many years later. I regularly recognize his impact on my life and feel his good will towards me as he continues to root for my success from afar. I had the opportunity to showcase my work to senior leaders in my organization recently and I started my presentation with the story of Steve and his ‘turtle on a fence post" quote. I ended my presentation by acknowledging my talented colleagues who supported the projects for which I was receiving praise, but who weren’t standing in the room with me.
Sometimes we get so lost in the busyness of the business that we miss the countless opportunities to say ‘thank you’ to those who make our jobs easier. In our quest to prove our value and showcase our success in this competitive climate, would it be too much to give credit to our supporting cast? Especially during this season of thanksgiving and giving, let’s take the time to acknowledge and appreciate those who’ve helped us along the way. As you receive accolades for your accomplishments, think of yourself as a turtle on a fence post who didn’t get there without help!