Turtles, Fence Posts and Dodging Traffic
Alex Haley has been credited with saying, “Anytime you see a turtle up on top of a fence post, you know he had some help.” I have heard a dozen variations of the quote as it relates to leadership. However, all of them infer the same thing…all leaders need help as well.
Few people in leadership make it on their own merits: wise leaders know they are a product of many people. Most are presented with opportunities and ultimately placed on the fence post of leadership. I am not saying it does not require work…but, seriously, when was the last time you saw a turtle jump?
However, I think there is something more important than the ritual of the fence post as it relates to developing or defining leaders. The traffic the turtle dodges while crossing the road to the fence post might be far more educational and a cause for even greater self-reflection.
This is where you learn to lead because it requires you to deal with the hardships that naturally come with dodging traffic and the potholes of life. This is the place where theory is tested and either proven to be a good idea or a God idea. This is where you forge your determination and commitment for ministry – or you quit!
Ironically I’ve heard the “turtle on a fencepost” quote used in a negative way, inferring that a leader got there because someone enabled them instead of them earning their way. The experience of crossing the road creates leaders and great mentors. Don’t circumvent the process.
So what is the bottom-line?
- All leaders are turtles on a fence post.
- All leaders had to cross traffic to get to the fence post – but some were picked up and moved across the road too soon missing the blessing of the process.
- Experienced leaders are those who had to dodge the most traffic on the way to the fence post. They are usually sensitive, keeping an eye out for the people behind them instead of always looking at those in front of them.
If you are dodging traffic in your leadership role, then don’t waste the process! Learning to dodge traffic while leading others is a necessary step. The process is intended to make you a great leader.