When you’re on a team, if you want it to be all about you, you miss great leadership opportunities. I wrote this especially for you coaches to share with your student-athletes…enjoy.
One day a pencil and a hammer were talking about being used to the best of their ability. The hammer was feeling down because it didn’t have any lumber to work with and the pencil was angry because it couldn’t write poetry on the table that was in the room.
The table had one leg shorter than all the rest and whenever the pencil would try to write, it and the paper would just slide off unto the floor. The town really like the poetry that the pencil would write; it always brought joy to everyone.
Just then, a great idea popped into the hammer’s head. Excitedly saying, “Pencil, what if you could write a letter asking for lumber to be sent to us? Then I could build you a new table!”
“How are you gonna do that!?” The pencil was noticeably upset at the ridiculous suggestion. “I can’t stay on the table we have long enough to write that!”
The hammer had a stupid half-smile on its face as it stood on its head, then replied, “I can use my head to level out the table, so that you can write the letter, whatdya say?! You do want to write poetry again don’t you?”
The pencil, now changing its outlook shouted, “Yes! Yes! That makes sense. I’ll do it!”
The hammer laid flat on the floor under the shortened table’s leg and leveled it. The pencil wrote the letter unbothered by any movement and days later the lumber arrived.
The hammer immediately got to hammering away building the new table and now the pencil is writing, to its own delight and the delight of the town, all the poetry it can muster up. And the hammer is busy building new things for their home.
The hammer chose to be used in a role that was different than its natural make-up so that everyone can reach to place where they are happy.
I believe that great leaders understand that they sometimes have to fill the role that is needed if it is missing as an important function on a team. And sometimes that role may not be using their strengths or personality well but the role needs to be done in order to get to a better place.
In this story, people from the outside, who didn’t see what happened inside the house, would think highly of the pencil for writing the letter (because the letter is the thing that got the material to the house). On a team, the leader doesn’t always have to be the one that people commonly notice, it can just as easily be the one that was willing to sacrifice in the short-term for the sake of the team’s longevity.
Do you fill the roles that you see are missing on your team?