Friday, December 7, 2012


Numbers, numbers, numbers. 

We live in a world where we want to quantify everything.  How many friends I have on Facebook.  How many steps I walked on the pedometer.  How many calories in that double cheeseburger (do I really want to know?).  We are bombarded with numbers and statistics to the point that we truly can become immune to their impact. 

However, numbers can help tell a story so let me share some with you.  Please really get what these numbers represent and don’t take them lightly.  It would be a mistake to do so.

80.  In 2012, for the first time in LeaderShape’s history, eighty sessions of The LeaderShape Institute were held from Doha, Qatar to Toronto, Canada to Boston, Massachusetts, to Eugene, Oregon and dozens of locations in between.  Eighty afternoons of reading Tomorrow’s Headlines, eighty opportunities to learn a different perspective, eighty more moments to realize you still can make a difference in a very complex world.  Perhaps most importantly, we now have eighty other communities who actually felt what a just, caring, thriving world feels like even if only for six days.

4,068.  So eighty sessions is the big story, but there are 4,068 other stories that are more important.  Over four thousand stories that were heard, told, added to, and shared in a way that they perhaps were never done so before.  That number represents the total number of participants who have attended The LeaderShape Institute so far in 2012 and we still have two more sessions this month.  Each one of those participants came to their session whether it be a national session or hosted by another organization with an idea about leadership, many of them thinking that they have learned what it means to lead prior to LeaderShape.  We believe that they all are better equipped to lead with integrity, adopt a healthy disregard for the impossible, and create the kind of world we all want to live in after leaving on Day Six.  Those stories are all different and yet all the same.  Stories of struggle, joy, confusion, and opportunity.  We all look forward to hearing those stories for years to come.

46,246.  All of those stories are now blended with graduates from years past to create the LeaderShape story.  What a story that is.  Those of you who have read Malcolm Gladwell are familiar with the concept of the “tipping point.”  The game I play from time to time is what number of LeaderShape graduates will be the tipping point for achieving our mission.  Is it 46,247?  Is it 50,000 which we will hit in 2013.  Is it 100,000?  When will we have reached the number that leading with integrity is now the norm?  I like playing this game because it gets more exciting every year.  I may not now when it is going to happen, but I know for sure that every year we are getting closer.  Not a bad game to play…do you agree?

1. Finally, the most important number has to be one.  Bet you saw that coming if you were paying attention.  With all of these wonderful numbers this year, they don’t mean anything if LeaderShape ever loses track of “the power of one.”  Each new participant, each new staff member, each facilitator, each food service worker who serves us at a session, each person that decides not to go to LeaderShape because they have “more important things to do.”  It is all about the one.  One conversation that changes a mind.  One idea that comes during a long walk with your family cluster.  One day when you decide to raise your game.  One moment that defines a life.

We all must never lose sight that numbers are made up of a bunch of “ones.”  Don’t care how much money you have; I care how you spend that one dollar.  Don’t care how many leadership positions you have held; I care about what you are doing in the one you hold now.  Don’t care how many participants have gone through your program; I care about whether one is different because of their experience. 

Measure that.


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