Tugboat or the Lighthouse
Updated: Mar 30
A few weeks ago I came across a small blurb about two different leaderships styles. I wanted to share this nautical themed analogy. In this analogy you can be like a tugboat or like a lighthouse. You'll find that when you're a tugboat, you're the little engine that could. You have this personality that you can pull, pull, pull, you can grab people, and you can try to take them with you. Tug boats, if you've ever seen one, they are impressive.
Little boats that do mighty things. They think that they can pull barges, luxury cruise ships, weights well beyond what you think imaginable. Pretty amazing little boats that work hard. When you're the tugboat when you get burned out at times, people don't want to go with you that you're trying to pull that direction. When you try to force them to go with you, sometimes it works but it isn't always efficient. It isn't always the best way to get things done. Even when you get results, you will not be as happy with your life when you were a tugboat. So compare that with a lighthouse. A lighthouse is stationary, beacon that spins round and round and shines its light on the world. It helps ships navigate uncharted waters and avoid rocks, it guides ships away from shore. It puts light into a dark world, and people not only look for it, they follow it willingly.
They seek it, they need it. When things are the bleakest, they look for that light. They're not being forced, or pulled by a boat, or some outside force. They're being drawn by themselves. As a leader, are we acting as tugboats or are we acting as a lighthouse?
I've found the last couple of years have been so different from early in my career, I tried to be a tugboat. I tried to pull people who may not have been ready to go the direction that I wanted them to use force and use willpower. I often fought through it, and I tried to make people be who I wanted them to be. Guess what? Didn't always work. I've found the last few years that being the light is much easier on you. You have a much broader impact because the people who are drawn to your light want to be there. There is no force.
They will follow you, and they will help you grow as they grow. In a world full of darkness, in a world full of people who need direction, don't pull them; you stay where you are and be the light. Be the beacon that they can follow, that they can choose which direction to go. I promise you; your life will be a lot easier with your friends, your family, your employees if you are the light.
Some people won't be attracted to your light, those people may not want to be in your life. You have to understand that's ok, don't try to be the tugboat to pull them your direction. They may not need to be in your life. Be the light.