Baby Cows

I like baby cows. Actually, I like the concept of baby cows. Real baby cows are smelly, dirty, and require a lot of care. I don’t want an actual baby cow; I just like the idea of baby cows. I think sometimes we have a lot of things in our lives where we like the concept, but the reality is not as neat and tidy as the idea.

I say I want to be physically fit and able to hike and climb 14ers (and fit in my clothes). The reality is not easy. Getting up to go for walks before work means I have to get to bed at a reasonable hour. The weather is unpredictable and mostly not optimum. Furthermore, it’s just difficult. My actions tell others whether I want to be fit or just like the concept of fitness.

I would like to have the freedom to shift my focus from work that pays to work that I can choose to do when I want to do it. Again, the reality isn’t complex; it is just difficult. Maintaining the discipline to save money means not getting other things I want when I want them. It means sacrifice now so I can enjoy something different later. It is easy to tell by looking at my lifestyle if I really want to be financially free or just like the idea.

I want to have good friends and healthy relationships with my family. All that takes is for all of them to change….but seriously, this one is difficult and complex. People are the worst, right? Well, I’m a “people” too, so maybe the onus is on me to be a friend and be healthy so I can be in healthy relationships. Folks, that’s tough. What I know is that all my failed relationships have one thing in common….

Being a leader sounds like a great deal. You get freedom, respect, more money, and possibly some other perks, right? Well, don’t forget about responsibility, constant scrutiny, and more time required. The perks aren’t enough to cover all that. Leading a value culture sounds awesome. Done right, it is smelly, dirty, and requires a lot of care.

If you have a baby cow, you’re going to get dirt and poop on you. They get lost, get sick, get attacked by other animals, and the list goes on. You have to be diligent and observant and ready and willing to go out in the middle of the night to take care of things. And, by the way, the baby cow won’t adequately appreciate you.

Growing and maintaining a value culture is messy too. People bring everything they are and everything they are dealing with to work. If you’re lucky they will tell you about it, but whether you know it or not, what is happening to them will impact their work and their interactions with others. You cannot lead people through these things from a distance; you have to get into the field and get dirty.

Of the seven ways leaders can demonstrate they genuinely care for the people they serve, four of the seven require hands on, getting dirty, hard work. 

  • Illuminate the vision
  • Nurture with encouragement
  • Share the rewards
  • Provide opportunities for growth
  • Invest in what matters to them
  • Respect them and listen
  • Establish a safe environment

You cannot care for a baby cow from a distance. You cannot lead a value culture from a distance either.

I want a culture that values everyone equally. When people look at my leadership and the culture of the community I serve, it should be evident that I am committed to an actual value culture, not just the concept of one. I should have the dirt and smell of doing the difficult work on me and a healthy, growing culture to show for it. A culture that values everyone equally is worth the effort, and it is The Bison Way.