5 Reasons for Leaders to get dirty

The Cleanliness Priority

I have a tendency to be obsessive compulsive.  Not in a debilitating way, but in a cleanliness way.

I wash my hands.  A lot.  I own way too much hand sanitizer.  Boxes of wipes are in every car and most rooms of the house.  As someone that talks a lot with her hands, it’s definitely a necessity to keep them clean.

I share this so you appreciate just how much the idea of getting dirty is “not me.”

Yet I love to go four wheeling on my ATV.  I get splattered with mud and caked with dirt.  I become Pig Pen, with a dust cloud out behind me, and have to take two showers to get all the grime off of me.  And yet I think it’s totally worth it.

When I ride, it gives me the same thrill my work does.

If you’ve figured out what I do for a living over the last three years, you should win a prize.  It took me two decades to figure it out, and friends and family are still at a loss.

I have worked in numerous industries, in a variety of roles.  Ultimately, what they all have in common is that leaders ask me to build or transform things.  I am a change leader.


True Change is Messy

Change leadership is not for the faint of heart.  You have to be willing to kick up a lot of dust, get splattered with the occasional mud when you bomb down unfamiliar terrain, and enjoy the bumps and bruises along the way.

The result is an adrenaline kick that can last for months and years.  A roller coaster ride of ups and downs, with the occasional spill.

For the most adventurous, it requires just the right kind of support.  Executives who can be your safety net when you fall down and need time to right yourself.  Until you can get going again.

Change leadership – whether it’s building a new company, team, product or service – is about the transformation of what is, to what can be.  It is very similar to the best kind of four wheeling.  Roll-cage, five point harness, hair-on-fire four wheeling.

So why should leaders consider getting dirty?  To taking those lesser traveled roads, with all the risks associated with them?

1.  Transformation is not possible by staying on paved roads. 

To transform a business – or ourselves – we must be willing to leave familiar landmarks for unchartered terrain.

2.  We will meet great people, eager to take risks along side us. 

They are not content to wait for the road to be paved and will help us forge a new path.

3.  Dirty hands remind us of our stake in our journey and accomplishments. 

It is evidence of the hard road we have taken.

4.  Treasure can only be found at the end of the road less traveled. 

Let others be content with what they find on the easy path.  The risky path yields great rewards.

5.  When we look back on our lives, we will know we’ve seen and done things like no other. 

We will know our our presence made a difference to those that came after.


Do you enjoy taking the road less traveled, to transform what is into what’s possible?  What advice do you have for those considering the leap?  I’d love if you could share your thoughts in the comments and keep the conversation going.