I was reminded last week of the following parable:

A traveler is passing by a construction site where he sees three workers. He asks the first: “What are you doing?” The worker says, “I’m cutting this stone.” The traveler asks the next man, “What are you doing?” The second worker says, “I’m earning a paycheck.” The traveler asks the next, “What are you doing?” And the third worker says, “I’m building a magnificent cathedral.”

At different points in the day, the week, the year, we are all at risk of being like one of the first two workers – focused on executing the task at hand, or getting through the day, or even just getting paid. What would it take for you to sustain your awareness of and commitment to the bigger picture, the higher purpose of your work? I think it’s fair to say that how and where you focus your attention will affect both your sense of personal fulfillment at work as well as the magnitude of your performance and contribution.

AND – the same goes for those who report to you. Right now, how often are the members of your team simply cutting stone or waiting for payday? It may help to examine the content and frequency of your communications, meetings, and conversations. What messages are you sending? Perhaps it would make sense to offer different and/or more frequent feedback that focuses on their contribution to longer-term goals. Think also, more broadly, about how you allocate your time and resources. For example, are you constantly fire-fighting and asking others to do the same? Perhaps you can manage your schedule more strategically, setting aside “sacred” time for strategic thinking and planning. What else could you do more or differently to build commitment to shared vision?

The potential payoffs are real and measurable: engagement, retention, efficiency, ROI, revenue, market share, and more… With your example and your leadership, you have the power to help others see – consistently – the cathedral under construction.
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