In almost any situation there are leaders and there are followers. Both positions are equally important, but to be a leader who makes a difference, you need to be able to see the bigger picture in whatever you’re doing.
Whether you’re just earning a living, doing the best at your job or trying to leave an imprint on the world, there is huge value in seeing the big picture. But seeing the big picture sometimes isn’t enough. True leadership must have a combination of seeing that big picture and also helping others to see it as well.
The following story illustrates these ideas:
“One day a traveler, walking along a lane, came across three stonecutters working in a quarry. Each was busy cutting a block of stone. Interested to find out what they were working on, he asked the first stonecutter what he was doing. ‘I am cutting a stone!’ Still no wiser the traveler turned to the second stonecutter and asked him what he was doing. ‘I am cutting this block of stone to make sure that its square, and its dimensions are uniform, so that it will fit exactly in its place in a wall.’ A bit closer to finding out what the stonecutters were working on but still unclear, the traveler turned to the third stonecutter. He seemed to be the happiest of the three and when asked what he was doing replied: ‘I am building a cathedral.’”
While all three stonecutters were doing the same thing, they each gave a different answer. They each knew how to do their job, but the third stonecutter knew not just what he was doing but why. He knew that each part of the job was helping to build a larger vision. And he understood that who you are and what you do will leave an imprint on the world and other people.
I would think that a person’s answers might change over time. Maybe the job a person has is just temporary, a way to earn a living. Or maybe being good at what we do is enough, and we don’t feel the need to see the big picture. Maybe we have other concerns such as family or health issues.
But when thinking about how we spend the main hours of our lives—as a parent, spouse or employee—wouldn’t it make sense that the time we spend is as fulfilling as possible? Cathedrals take years to build. They are not only solid structures but often full of art and architecture and built with the hope that they will stand for centuries, long after the stonecutters have cut the last stone. For years after the last stone has been laid, people can worship in that building. Families can be united through marriage and, in death, others can be laid to rest. Memories can be made and souls might be saved, and, through the years, that cathedral may affect the lives of more than we’ll ever know.
Remember, as a wife, mother, husband, father, child or employee, what you do each and every day is help create cathedrals, both physically and metaphorically, which will continue to bless others, sometimes long after the building is finished.