Walk Through It
“The best way to know your land is to walk through it.” Scott Jurek’s grandfather
A few years ago I had the opportunity to sit down with leaders from a variety of companies, for-profit, non-profit and churches. I still have my notes from those encounters. Without looking I believe I had the chance to sit and talk twelve different leaders. I went into each meeting with a list of questions. You can find that list on Michael Hyatt's website, as he was one of the leaders I interviewed. 20 Questions for Leaders.
During one interview, it wasn’t the answers to the questions making the biggest impact but the walk through the office the leader led me on. Journey Johnson was at the time the CEO of the YMCA of Middle Tennessee. He had graciously agreed to meet me during his lunch hour and even provided the lunch. Before the lunch he took the time to walk me through the office, giving me a tour and introducing me to his team.
It was obvious this wasn’t his first ‘walk through.’
Each employee we approached he called their name and entered into a conversation. It wasn’t just surface words but details about work but I was more impressed that he asked them about life, their life. It seemed he was adding words to an on-going conversation.
The quote at the top of this post, “The best way to know your land is to walk through it" is from the book North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek.
I think Journey took this seriously. To know his company, to know his employees he took the time to walk through it, many times. I will also infer, from my brief observation, he walked through the halls many times because he cared about employees as persons.
Productivity increases when we treat people for who they are and not what they can do?
It is easy as a leader to take a walk through the office or campus. However, it is often driven by what we need to get accomplished. How about we put into action the grandfather’s suggestion, 'get to know your land, walk through it.' And in doing so get to know your people. They might just become better at what they do because of it.
Thanks, Journey for an example I will never forget.