Be Great Today!

July 19, 2022

by Stephen T. Messenger

Last week, I took command of United States Army Garrison Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. My family and I are humbled and blessed to be placed in this position of responsibility that influences hundreds of wonderful people who work for the garrison, tens of tenant organizations, and thousands of people in the community.

On my first full day in command, I started at 6 am on the installation main gate. For those unfamiliar with military bases, each one has security checkpoints requiring identification to enter. Dedicated police officers, heroes of our community, scan each driver in and protect our families and service members.

After receiving a quick brief on how to use the scanner and asking repeatedly to have a taser (denied), I was ready to interact with drivers in 18-second increments. It was my first opportunity to meet most of the people who worked on or with the base. My goal was to provide a quick message about leadership.

Find those Small Moments to Inspire

To each driver I would quickly introduce myself. If I knew them, I would joke about bringing the dogs out to search their vehicle. I’d then ask their name and where they worked, thank them, and end with, “Be great today!”

So often our hard-working employees come into work and do a laudable job, but seldom feel they’re making a difference or recognized for their work. This can lead to stagnation, apathy, or mundanity that prevents teams and individuals from achieving their maximum standard.

“Great leaders all have one thing in common. They know that acquiring and keeping good people is a leader’s most important task,” writes John Maxwell in his book, Developing the Leaders around You. He goes on to say, “Find the best people you can, then develop them into the best leaders they can be.”

Sometimes though, you only have brief interactions with many you lead. You must capitalize on each engagement, no matter how small.

To inspire and retain your people, they need to know that you care, are thankful, and are rooting for them to, “Be great today!”

Catching the Bus

Every morning from elementary school through high school, I would walk out the door for the bus while my mom chased me out to say goodbye. She would lovingly shout out four things to me as I left, which the whole neighborhood could hear:

“Go get ‘em Tiger!

You’re a winner!

Do your best!

Make the Messengers proud!”

Even though I walked (ran) away, embarrassed by this message of encouragement, and hoping my friends didn’t hear, this simple act by my mom most likely changed my life.

Someone was rooting for me. Someone acknowledged that I was doing hard things. Someone recognized my potential.

I wanted inside to live up to those expectations.

Few of us have mom chasing us out the door in our adult life challenging us to do our best. As leaders and parents, we need to be the ones continuously encouraging our people to go above and beyond.

Meet Them at the Door

An interesting thing happened when I met people at the front gate which I didn’t expect: their countenance changed. Initially, they were on a mundane drive into work, sipping coffee, dropping off kids, and listening to country music.

But at the gate, suddenly they met a person in a leadership position, thanking them for their hard work and recognizing their contribution. As they drove off, they received an encouraging shout, much like my mom would yell at me as I left the house, to “be great today!”

Many had the same reaction I had as a kid: “I am going to pick up my game.”  Many told me to be great today as well. It inspired me back. 

We owe encouragement to our followers. All of us do so much at work that is seldom recognized or applauded. As leaders we must provide purpose, direction, and motivation to encourage others to excel.

A great place to do that is right when you meet them at the door.

Be inspiring today!

Be great today!

The Maximum Standard publishes a weekly article that you can receive free in your inbox by simply subscribing. I encourage you to become part of the journey to grow in your personal leadership – no ads, just improvement!  Lead well and be great today!

Click here for the foundational article on The Maximum Standard

Click here for the most read article on The Maximum Standard—Lead Outside the Circle     

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