“He ain’t heavy, Father… he’s m’ brother.”

Growing up, my parents had a small wall plate in our home with these words on it.

It made an impression on me as a young boy. I can’t say that I remember exactly how old I was when I first encountered that wall plate, but I can say those words never left me. Those words still ring true to me today, and perhaps never more so.

As Symphonic Strategies celebrates its 15th year of business, I find myself in a reflective mood. I’ve been blessed to have been able to work with, and for, so many great people since I started this company in 2004. I’ve enjoyed working on complex and meaningful issues. I’ve climbed the peaks and endured the valleys that come with owning a small business. With all of that said, the most striking thing that comes to mind as I reflect back on 15 years of business are the people—the often complex and colorful characters who have enriched my life in so many ways.

Now, if I’m being honest, it did take some time and some distance for me to be able to see a few specific individuals (who I will not name) as being as “enriching” as they thought they were. In hindsight, no matter how difficult the interactions or the challenges, they’ve all been blessings.

And, here’s why I consider all of them to be blessings: they’ve inspired me (sometimes unknowingly) to do things that, at times, I’ve been reluctant to do. In many ways, they forced me to grow.

That’s what effective leaders do. They help others grow, and growth often comes from doing things we’re reluctant to do on our own.

This year, I’ve decided to celebrate 15 years of business by sharing some of what I’ve learned from the clients we’ve served and the talented professionals who’ve helped me serve them. I plan to focus on how leaders help other people overcome the obstacles and challenges before them.

Movement can’t happen unless and until individuals are inspired to tackle the very things that have kept them in place for so long. Leaders lead people. That’s not an original statement. Leaders, however, often forget to view the world from the perspective of the very people they seek to lead.

Instead, many leaders become easily disappointed by the reluctance of others to act. When that disappointment turns into anger, resentment and contempt are not far behind.

Effective leaders don’t allow the burdens that accompany leadership to weigh them down. Effective leaders are willing and able to “carry” others when help is needed.

“He ain’t heavy, Father… he’s m’ brother.” Take a moment to read the story of how this motto came to be and you’ll see why it’s still relevant today.

Let’s focus on what you can do to help others do things they’re reluctant or unable to do. In the series to come, I’ll offer my perspective on some of the obstacles and challenges that I’ve witnessed leaders struggle to confront. From articulating a reason why change is necessary, to dealing with people who’ve retreated into emotional bunkers, there are common scenarios that every leader ought to be prepared to handle.

Each month we’ll tackle a scenario that requires some heavy lifting, starting with the challenge of knowing where we’re going.


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