The story behind this small yet crooked bridge is that it sits over a small creek located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in Arizona approximately a 10-mile hike in from the nearest road.

I recently went on a four day and three-night backpacking trip with 10 other people whom I had just met before the hike.

When the guide brought us to this small bridge he pointed just past it and told us we would be tenting over there for the next three nights.

We would have to cross this bridge at least 8 times in the next few days.

My stomach turned upside down…

Years ago I was diagnosed with a Chiari Malformation, which in brief is a bone growth in the skull which has to be removed as it causes balance issues or difficulty walking.

Surgery was a success almost 20 years ago, however, I live with no balance and sometimes my left leg drags or stumbles.

I knew I could not make it across this bridge.

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I looked around at the 10 other people who were crossing the bridge one by one with their 40lb+ packs on their back, chatting and having a joyous time.

I do not typically panic but inside I was a wreck!

I looked at my wife and then told the guide what my issue was before it was my time to cross.

My stomach turned upside down a second time…

A short bridge… as a kid you would run across it without even thinking about, the other 9 hikers glided right over.

Why me? Why now?

My Guide asked for my pack and brought it across and then my poles.

I knew the only way across was to crawl on my hands and knees.

I started and I don’t think I have ever concentrated on one thing and squeezed each piece of wood my hands touched any harder than I did that first crossing.

It was a slow crawl, one board at a time, staring directly at that green water flowing past each board I passed.

As I finished on my first crossing everyone cheered; but I just wanted to sink, as it was so easy for them, however, so hard for me.

A simple short bridge was a mountain for me, and a hop and a skip for everyone else.

The next four days I crossed that bridge a total of 8 times and every time I crossed the cheers became less and less, but I stayed dry and I counted in my head how many I had left till I was done with this task.

On many hikes I take, it gives me time to reflect.

On my next daily hike in my own world, I reflected back on how I treat, as well as my expectations, that I have for everyone in my business without really knowing the full story behind each person.

The questions I asked myself:

  • Should we be judging everyone the same?
  • Should we be commending the small accomplishments each achieve no matter how big or small?
  • Do we know their real story?

How I changed from one side of the bridge to the other:

  • I ask how people are and what they did last night.
  • I ask how their families are doing.
  • I remember the important days and celebrations they may have mentioned.
  • If I sense a struggle I ask about how I can help.
  • I am observing more of my surroundings and individuals.

The clear path to employee & team leadership:

  • Communication regarding everything in the company.
    • Schedules, cash flow, and some future plans.
  • Lead by example:
    • I will jump into the action and assist if needed to let my team know I am right there with them on a project if and when necessary.
  • Follow through:
    • Many times in the past my words did not match my actions.  Employees are encouraged to ask questions on past discussions and ideas.
  • Allow Employees to make decisions on what directly affects them:
    • It may be something simple, for example, “Why should I determine the type of jackets my team wears in the colder temperatures?”  Let them discuss among themselves on a choice and then I approve of the final choice.
  • Team Meetings:
    • Regularly held at a set time and day with an agenda but always time for questions and answers as well as open talk.  This usually is held at a breakfast or lunch meeting.
  • Team Building:
    • offsite get-togethers with all the team members in a fun non-work related activity.  This is sometimes planned around just team members and other times with team members and their families.

The question we should all have for ourselves is:

“Are we happy with the feeling of the company and is this a place where we would like to come to every day?”

If not,  “What can we do to change it?”

I challenge you to take a deep review of the company from an outsider’s, as well as an employees view, and determine if a change needs to be made.

One small change can make someones world.

About the Author

Ron Ramsden is the owner of the successful Ramsden 1-800-PAINTING, who implemented the DYB SYSTEM, and crushed it in 2015, and now coaches other painting contractors around the nation to do the same.