I only wish I were half the person John Lewis was, a quarter of his character, or one-tenth his courage.
Powerful and resilient.
Steadfast and grounded.
Inspired and inspirational.
And best of all, a trouble-maker.
Ladderburners share a part of John Lewis’s persona. The part that builds bridges and forges relationships rather than climbs ladders to measure success.
Ladders divide us.
They are rigged systems, exclusionary, and based on the false promise that anyone who works hard and achieves can move upward.
Ladders promote order, maintain the status quo. They keep people in their place. Boundaries harden into borders. Order justifies a lot of bullshit. Too much bullshit.
Lewis lived by the principle that when you put people – not yourself – in the center of the universe, you march down a road of uncertainty flanked by strength and courage.
When you help others succeed, you succeed.
This is not a personal agenda. It is a human certainty.
How many different ways can this be said? We live to connect, to engage in meaningful relationships, and fulfill a purpose with our lives. Everything else is just the details, just stuff.
This is not complicated.
We need to stop worrying about how much we’ve accomplished … as if that entitles us to climb upward. All while some are stuck and others pushed down.
Ladders force us to stand out and be different while what we crave is connection.
When people define their success based on their ability to help others get what they need – as a parent, boss, business leader, soccer coach, Supreme Court Justice, or better yet – a person like John Lewis – they make an impact far greater than what they could accomplish on their own.
Impact. Making a difference. Engagement. Doing something meaningful with your life. How does that sound?
No. This is not complicated. John Lewis was not complicated. He was a trouble maker.
He makes you realize that your trouble defines you.
Good trouble? Rock the boat, baby.
Question the status quo? You bet.
Impact people and organizations? You got it.
Ask questions? Makes you a genius.
Stop worrying about yourself and start doing something to put a dent in the world.
Need help stirring the pot? I’ll send you a spoon.
Thank you, John Lewis. Your life was our gift.
I pray we make it without you among us.
- Learning Lab: 3 Questions to Answer Better than Your Job Description2 min. read Job descriptions are static, limited in their depth and true day-to-day application.
- Learning Lab: Job Clarity3 min. read Grab a highlighter, 6 post-it notes, and your job description. Mark it up.
- Learning Lab: Redefine Career Success3 min. read Many – if not most people – measure career success by how far up they’ve climbed the ladder. They measure it with “more.”