I have been carrying around tiny, plastic dinosaurs with me for about 15 years. To be honest…I do not know where the first one ended up. I have lost and gifted many of them over the years and have always replaced it. It remains an important reminder and talisman to me of a very early leadership lesson. I also believe it has brought connection and joy to those I have gifted the dinosaurs to over the years.
Here are two quick stories related to the dinosaur which I think demonstrate its value….
1) The Leadership Lesson
One of the first big leadership assignments I was given, was a “fool’s errand”…dare to be great…turnaround story. I was asked to take over a really challenging client situation on short notice. I was told that the current leader wasn’t cutting it anymore and that I was just the person to get things back on track. I was excited and energized to “run towards the fire” and demonstrate that my fresh way of doing things would win the day. The end of the story was through a lot of painful…hard work…and incredible support from amazing colleagues and friends…we did turn things around…but it left us all exhausted and with a few more gray hairs than when we started.
As we wrapped up the assignment and prepared to move on to our next projects…a few of us celebrated by going to “Dave & Busters”. At the end of the night we had a handful of tickets from the games we played. As I looked aimlessly around the store at the limited number of tchotchkes I could get… I was drawn with great amusement to the bin of little plastic dinosaurs. I got three of them and gave the other two to my amazing wingmen…Sean Bishop and Jason Powell. I told them it should act as a reminder of what we had been through.
- Don’t be so stuck to your old ways of doing things that you can’t constantly look to evolve and learn
- We won’t be young forever but that doesn’t mean that as get older that we can be seen as change agents
- We don’t ever want to become dinosaurs because if we do…we will end up extinct
2) The Gift
I was on a work trip recently in Venice and found myself on the last night of the event having dinner with a group of wonderful people from the HP Americas team. I managed to strike up a conversation with the guy next to me…and I think the question I asked him was “what was the most memorable moment of the trip?”
Otto proceeded to tell me the most incredible story about meeting a man on the coast of Italy (he travelled around for a few days before the event started). Turns out the guy was a very wealthy real estate mogul and invited him to hang out with him while he was there. To thank him for his generosity and time Otto gave him one of his most prize possessions…a little golden statue he carried around in his laptop bag that he got for being top sales guy. Otto said
“What can you give someone who seemingly has everything other than a story and something meaningful that reminds you to work hard and strive to be your best”.
Cool right??!! While Otto was sad there was now a blank spot where the statue once was, he was happy he had gifted it forward.
I smiled at the end of his story and I reached for my purse. I dug around for a few seconds and pulled the dinosaur out of my bag and placed it on the table in front of him. I told him how I too carried around an object that reminds me to evolve and be better and that I would be honored if he would accept it to replace the gold statue in his bag. Otto laughed and gratefully accepted it and now had another story to tell…another reminder…and something else to gift forward one day.
Leadership Questions of the Week for YOU:
- Do YOU have some sort of talisman that YOU carry around? What are the 2-3 things it reminds you of?
- When we start out our careers we can’t ever imagine being seen as a “dinosaur”. What have YOU done to ensure you don’t become too set in your ways and risk becoming “extinct” in the business world?
- What is the most memorable gift you have gotten from someone (or given) that was more about the story and symbolism rather than what it cost?
Thanks for reading….and remember…YOU make a difference!
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P.S. You’ll be pleased to know…when I returned to Phoenix I replaced my dinosaur (as seen in the picture) and I can’t wait to see where this one ends up!