Aug. 12, 2009
When WE were kids (those of us old enough to remember three television channels, one television set in the house in black and white, test patterns, television going off the air from midnight until 6:00 AM, Mighty Mouse Playhouse, Fury, My Friend Flicka, Captain Midnight, The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans (and Trigger, Bullet, Pat Brady, and Nellie Bell), Kukla, Fran, and Ollie, Jim Bowie, Crusader Rabbit, Jack Benny, Sky King, and Davey Crocket (Coon Skin Caps), our first experience with leaders and leadership was usually with our parents.
Here’s a shot of my partner John Reilly sitting on his Dad’s lap watching the Howdy Doody show in 1947 on their giant TV screen.
Now, we don't necessarily think of our parents as leaders when we are youngsters, but that is exactly the role they filled. My mom had plenty of motivational and leadership quotes for me and my sisters when we were growing up, quotes which I am sure had some effect on our outlook on life. Today's parents may have some resistance to some of the old, proven ways, or may just not have the time, so why don't we create posters with these time tested words of wisdom and motivational statements and put them in the kid's rooms so they see them every day? Today, everywhere I go, I see posters with quotes and motivational and leadership statements. Forget Leadership 101, I think sometimes we can use a dose of Leadership MOM. With that in mind, consider a series of posters with the following quotes from yesteryear. How many do you remember and from which ones do you think the kids today would benefit?
“Don’t cry over spilt milk.”
"Children should be seen and not heard."
"Do as I say, not as I do."
"Speak only when spoken to."
"Don't make me say it again."
“Monkey see, monkey do.”
“And don’t you forget it.”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.”
“If it were a snake it would bite you.”
“If you can’t say something nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.”
"Because I said so."
“Don’t be a crybaby.”
“Boys don’t hit girls.”
“Don’t run with scissors in your hand.”
“You’ll spoil your dinner if you eat that.”
“Eat your dinner - people in China are starving!”
“Don’t chew with your mouth open.”
“Don't make me stop this car.”
“You can be anything you want to be.”
“No playing until your homework is done.”
“No singing at the dinner table.”
“No watching TV at the dinner table.”
"Put that stick down before you poke your eye out."
"Be sure to wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident"
“You can’t go swimming until 30 minutes after you eat.”
Some of the above may sound a bit harsh by today's standards, but I can tell you that they taught me a lot about the "pecking order" of life…even the last one. While I never knew anyone whose eye was poked out with a stick, I knew that it was best to obey, or I might hear. "Wait until your father gets home!"
Surfacing ideas and concepts in a repetitive way can work miracles. That is why there is such popularity with motivational posters and motivational calendars and slogans. Repetition works its subtle effect.
When I went to the Naval Academy in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the walls of the Naval Science Building (Luce Hall) were lined with famous naval sayings. Looking at these statements each day on our way to class embedded in our consciousness certain values…
"Fight her till she sinks and don't give up the ship." Captain James Lawrence.
This helped teach me perseverance.
"Men mean more than guns in the rating of a ship." John Paul Jones.
This helped cement in my mind the value of my men, and the value of the team.
"He who will not risk cannot win." John Paul Jones.
Later in life I heard "no guts no glory."
This is a fact of life in the business world and the world of investing.
"When Principle is involved, be deaf to expediency." Commodore Maury.
Integrity is an essential element of leadership and this quote reminded me of this almost daily for 4 years.
"If the mast goes, we go with it. Our post is here." Midshipman Jarvis on the USS Constellation in 1800.
Duty and sacrifice…at whatever cost, be prepared to do your duty.
So, what if we take all of these quotes from Leadership MOM, create posters, and put them up in the kid's room and around the house? This could be a great new way to help inspire the next generation. Just in case this is one of those MILLION DOLLAR IDEAS (like pet rocks), I just acquired the domain ParentingPosters.com. We can also offer t-shirts with all of the quotes.