Tuesday, August 21

In Memory of Fred Smith

This past week, Fred Smith, Founder and CEO of FedEx, died at the age of 91. Fred was a businessman, consultant, active Christian, and public speaker much in demand. He was a consultant to such corporations as Genesco, Mobil, and Caterpillar. He served on more than twenty boards, including Youth for Christ and Christianity Today, but later in life he no longer accepted such invitations, because "at this stage of my life, I'm more dedicated to individuals than institutions."

In memory of Fred's lasting legacy in the business community, here is one of his many articles on leadership and habits.

Good Habits
Fred Smith lists eight habits that he proposed to the Printing Industry of America in a 1961 keynote address.

Nearly every organization runs on habit, just as you do. Nearly everything you've done today, you've done habitually. If you didn't, you couldn't do it. This is one of the problems in reorganization. You upset the habit structure it slows things down tremendously. Successful reorganization requires time to rebuild habits. This may take awhile.

Here are some good habits to cultivate in your business:

1) Create a spirit in your organization that will be acceptable to challenges. Don't let people come in and tell you why something can't be done. When they do, simply say, "I know that. Tell me what we will have to change in order to do it."
2) Change is all right ---- status quo is no good. "status quo" is Latin for "the mess we are in."
3) Accept ideas. You as a leader will have to accept a new idea before your organization will accept them.
4) Don't delay failures. I have a friend who says, "I don't ever delay cutting short a failure that is funded with my own money."
5) Get management on the offense. How many times do you see management fighting back instead of leading?
6) Develop the habit of good work. The President of a pipeline company said, "This is one of the habits I get my organization into --- to step back from their job and say, "That's good." I believe that there is a pretty substantial Biblical basis for that habit. Recently a 12 year old boy was recognized for saving his infant sister from a house fire. He had learned rescue techniques in Boy Scouts. When asked what he thought about his actions he confidently responded, "I did a good job." Not bragging if you've done it!
7) Examine the things you're proud of. You have to watch this one carefully. I was in a company the other day and they were telling me some things they had done and were proud of. We examined them. Some of these things should have been stopped long ago. But because they were proud of them they continued doing them long after they became obsolete.
8) Work smart instead of hard. Some people give credit to a guy who works hard. I give him no credit at all unless he works smart. I know of a small company who lets his company be a guinea pig for the local university's engineering department. He is working smart ---

I know that I haven't told you anything that you don't already know. My job is always the same thing. My job isn't to tell you anything new. When someone asked me "How do you earn your money?" I tell "I earn my money by reminding people."

I hope that I have reminded you that good habits are a key to successful living. Find one that works for you and make it real in your organization.

Read more about Fred Smith's lasting legacy at Breakfast with Fred and Leadership Journal.

To lead is to serve,
Coach Carolyn

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