Three Cups of Tea and a whole lotta Leadership

I’m in the middle of a book called ‘Three Cups of Tea’ by Greg Mortenson about an American climber in the late 80’s who attempted to scale the K2 in the Himilayas and failed. Near death he stumbled into a desolate village and through their kindness and self sacrifice, the villagers saved his life and nursed him back to health. Asking what he could offer in return, he received a reply of “We do not envy the restlessness of your culture and I think we could teach you a thing or two about peace and happiness, but what we desperately need is for our children to learn.” Thereon, he returned to his home in the States and attempted to raise funds to build a school for the small remote village. Though now, halfway around the world in a completely different setting, beneath the ever shining sun of Southern California with the sand and surf, the little frozen village in the Karakoram mountains seemed like a distant past dream, but he persisted and after a year and half ended up raising enough money to return to Pakistan to buy materials. (That’s as far as I’ve gotten) Based on a true story of Mortenson in the late 80’s early 90’s, his drive and leadership allowed him to help others in a way he never imagined that he was capable of.

Inside each and every single one of us, there is the ability to lead.

Whether we affect only ourselves, a small village or an entire nation, the leader within us yearns to be free and be heard. The idea behind a leader, is one who has an idea or goal and is able to rally people behind their vision and have everyone working towards that common interest. Whether you’re the General of an army or the General Manager of a store, you talk and people listen. I hear from my work colleagues or hockey teammates “Oh I’m not a leader, I couldn’t manage anybody.” But yet I see these same people speaking up in meetings with new ideas, making suggestions and plans, or playing their ass off on the ice while everyone is just cruising. Unbeknownst to them, they are leading by example and I don’t know about you, but I’ve always worked harder for a hard working boss than a lazy one.

There are 3 types of leaders in this world.

Pushers, Pullers and Pointers.

The Pusher sees the end goal and directs people towards it, giving just enough directions to get to the next step. This type of leader gets things done but morale of his subordinates is often low as they’re seen as tools to accomplish a feat. The Puller convinces her people along the way, coaxing them into doing the job although often very nearly does the whole job herself. The Pointer knows what his team needs to accomplish and simply points the way to the finish line, helping those who ask for it along the way. While there can be a never ending debate on which is the best, in my opinion, you need to have parts of all 3 to become a great and effective leader. All of us individuals have different buttons that make us our best and it’s up to our leaders to effectively find out what those buttons are. Unfortunately, life isn’t all like Staples with just one big easy button.

If you look within your own group of friends, you’ll find this trait too. You’ll have pushers, pullers and pointers. Everybody has those traits while few bring them out as true leadership. We are all leaders of something, whether it be small like your family, or large like a country, we all have the ability to lead, even if it’s for only a moment. Look at all the times when your friends say “I need help with this, can you help?” or when your colleagues ask “how do you do that so well?” or when a decision needs to be made and you made it. We all look to others to help us in our times of need, meaning we look for direction and leadership, but many times, our peers approach us in their time of need. You may not have realized it at the time, but you were a leader and you were able to make a difference even though maybe it was just to help a new hire find the bathroom. Like the climber Greg Mortenson, who didn’t set out to become a leader, through our actions and integrity towards other people we all have the ability to lead and influence others to make a difference in our daily lives.

Greg Mortenson surrounded by Pakistani children for whom he built the school for


I saw this video a while ago on leadership from a crazy dancing guy. It’s worth the watch. (Click link)