December 1. Start of a new month. A special month, with the holiday season underway. Here on the East Coast it's a bright morning marked by a bracing chill. A feel of promise is in the air.
For all of the above, or for some other subconscious reason entirely, I am reminded of the story that Gerald Long told in the pages of Directors & Boards 20 years ago. Shortly after he retired as chairman and CEO of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco USA, Long wrote a piece for us titled "Leadership and the Pursuit of Excellence." It was full of wonderfully inspiring stories. Here was one of them:
"Analyzing leadership is a lot like studying the Abominable Snowman: You see the footprints, but never the thing itself. Leadership is like electricity. You can't see it, but you certainly can't miss its effect. And yet, this elusive, intangible thing we call leadership might very well be the most essential ingredient in personal and business success.
"Louis XIV [pictured], pursuing his dream of becoming a global leader, neglected his people and started a revolution. But a wealthy young Frenchman named Count St. Simon heeded their cries for food and justice by devoting his time and fortune to his countrymen. The count told his servant to wake him each morning by grabbing his shoulder and shouting: 'Get up, monsieur, you have great things to do today!' "
Now that's the way to get up and greet each day.