All is Well at the Well
By John Blumberg,
Andersen Alumnus and author of Return On
often asked, “What does the shovel
represent on the front of your new book?”
It’s a fair question to which my initial response is … “it’s a ‘warning’
label of sorts!”
first experience at really digging was when I was in the second grade. Ever
since I can remember, I had a love for water fountains. And, in the second
grade, I decided I was going to build one … right in our backyard! I saved my
money to buy a long hose, a simple straight nozzle, some bricks, Sakrete for
making the concrete base, and some flowers.
was a fairly basic design. I would hook the end of the hose to the outdoor
water faucet coming out from the back of the house. I would then dig a really
long trench to bury the hose under the ground all the way from the faucet to my
perfectly conceived location for the water fountain.
fountain design would feature an 18-inch by 18-inch cement center made with the
Sakrete. I would build a wood mold for pouring the 4-inch deep cement square.
The trench, with the hose, would end just under where the cement square would
be poured. I would attach the nozzle to the end of the hose and then anchor the
nozzle, pointing straight-up. Once the cement was poured, the tip of the nozzle
would stick-out about an inch above the level of the cement. Outside the
18-inch square, I would dig another 12-inches out in all directions to create a
flowerbed frame around all sides of the cement square. I would then frame the
flowerbed on all sides with bricks. And then, of course, I would plant a bunch
of bright yellow and orange marigolds. It seemed like a perfect plan!
first challenge, as you might imagine, was getting my Mom and Dad to say YES! I
still can’t believe they said yes … my own children would tell you I would have
never allowed this to happen at our house! The second challenge was the trench
for the hose. For any age, but especially for a second grader …
It took a lot of digging!
thought I would finish the entire project on one hot summer day. By sundown, on
that first day, I had almost finished … digging the trench! I woke-up in the
middle of the night from the throbbing pain of the blisters in the center palm
of both my hands. And I still had to dig out the entire area for the fountain
was much harder and took much longer than I ever imagined. I think it’s
precisely the experience leaders have faced when trying to discover their own
It takes a lot of digging.
The adventure of discovering your core values goes beyond digging a trench. It’s much more like digging a well. It takes a whole lot of digging. Let’s assume the reservoir of water is sitting at 100 feet deep. Digging 100 feet would be hard enough. The even harder part would be arriving at 25 feet, 50 feet, 75 feet, or 99 feet and still having nothing … but more dirt.
at the 100th foot … there it is. Water.
The journey to your values is very similar. I sense the frustration of leaders
digging for their values at 25 feet, 50 feet and beyond. It often feels like
you are no further along than when you started. Just more dirt! It’s there you
have to keep digging. And digging. And digging!
digging is our choice. It’s the choice every leader has to make. It seems to be
a harder choice than I first realized it would be. Staying with it seems to be
even harder. I remember the palms of my little second grade hands were starting
to be really sore as I would look back and forth from the location of the
faucet and the desired location of the fountain. At least I could see the
distance in-between and could see how much further I had to go. We don’t always
know how much further we need to dig to reach the well of our values. We have
to just keep digging. And digging can be hard. Yet, there is one thing certain
The water is there and waiting whether you
tap into it or not.
the same is true for the values of a leader. The well is waiting within. It
isn’t about looking around for some convenient pond to tap into. It’s about
continuing to dig where there seems to be nothing. When you see more dirt …
just keep digging. The well is waiting to be found.
you break-thru and find the water … discover your core values … it provides an
endless reservoir of insight, strategy and direction.
blisters on my little hands healed in about a week. Yet years later, when I
moved-out following my college graduation, that little backyard fountain was
still flowing. In some ways, you might say a lot of digging went a long way.
And in some ways, you might say your core
values are the fountain of your leadership.
all begins with a lot of digging. The question isn’t if the reservoir is there.
All is well at the well. The question is … are you willing to pick-up the
shovel, dig for it, tap into it … and let your fountain flow.
G. Blumberg is an Andersen Alumni, a national speaker and author of several
books including his just released book, Return On Integrity: The New Definition of ROI and Why Leaders
Need to Know It. It is available
on Amazon and at major bookstores. You can connect with John at http://www.blumbergroi.com/connect