Self Made Nothing!

Have you ever been scared while climbing a ladder?


I wanted to spend some time on the 7 Components of Leadership found in my new ebook entitled A Picture Book Manifesto on Leadership.  You can download your free copy here.

The 6th Principle highlighted is that of a ladder.  I am not only talking about a rope ladder pictured above, but any ladder in general.  A few weekends ago, I had the pleasure of trimming our holly bushes.  I tried to use positive language to keep from getting grumpy again, because this is a task I dread.  Regardless, several of the bushes around our house have grown to the point of needing a ladder to trim the tops.

As I started to climb the ladder and trim the first bush, the entire ladder began to shake.  If this has happened to you, then you are well aware of your inability to make it stop shaking.  In the name of safety, and maybe a little procrastination, I waited until someone could hold the bottom of the ladder to continue.  This experience really illustrates three important lessons for leaders.

3 Ladder Lessons for Leaders

1.  You Can’t Get to the Top Without AssistanceOne of the other problems with the ladder was being able to climb with the hedge trimmers in my hand.  It could have been done, but the risk was not worth the reward.  Have you ever heard the term “Self-made man”?  Let me just say this phrase infuriates me because anyone being honest knows it is not true.  To get to the top of the mountain you need folks walking along side you.  You are not a team of one, if so, you will likely not see the top of the mountain.

2.  You Can’t Stay at the Top Without SupportMy father stopped by the afternoon I was trimming the holly bushes and offered to hold the bottom of the ladder.  It magically did not shake any longer.  Was he going to be able to insure I did not fall off?  Of course not, but the stability provided allowed me to complete the task.  This was not only true for the first bush, but for the other nine as well.

3.  Don’t Forget Who Came Before YouIn the illustration of the bushes, without the invention of the ladder, how would I have accomplished the task?  Without people falling off shorter ladders, would we now know not to stand on the top rung.  Within every industry and organization, others have blazed the trail enabling us to succeed.

Who’s handing you the trimmers?

Who’s holding your ladder?

Who’s shoulders are you standing on?

Leave a comment below – How have others helped you get to the top?  How are you helping others?

Don’t forget, download your copy of A Picture Book Manifesto on Leadership for FREE here.


  1. Dan Forbes says:

    All around us are great lessons. I’ll remember this one the next time I use my ladder.

  2. Let's Grow Leaders says:

    It’s amazing how often leaders forget this vital message. Thanks for this important post.

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