Legacy of One Impacts Many
Legacy is more than the work you do, it is the impact you have on others.
I was fortunate in my career journey to work with Lester J. Heath, III who was the president of the Albany Ladder Company, Inc. which had locations throughout New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania.
Finding Your Passion
The influence that Lester provided all of us was to pursue our passion in the creation of what we desired. For me, it was learning environments which included training within and outside our firm.
I was provided the freedom to create what I wanted for the collective benefit of the community that was Albany Ladder. While I played various roles in the company’s credit and finance function, its sales organization I was most excited about my responsibilities as the VP and Chief Learning Officer.
We were an equipment distribution company yet in many ways the basis of the company became a living organizational model for what business could be if people were empowered. Sometimes this got us into interesting dialogues with people who believed that we might be providing a secular option for people’s faith. Our motto was, “Committed To Quality.”
Lester and I knew that society was changing and that the nuclear family was evolving and changing dramatically. Fraternal organizations were no longer attracting people to social interaction. Harsher driving restrictions had a curious effect. While intoxicated driving rulings had a positive effect on reducing fatal driving infractions at the same time co-workers got together far less as a result to bowl, play softball or such activities where alcohol might have been a part of the events. We noticed that people of faith where diminishing in the workplace which was co
ncerning to us. Work became the new social model and gathering place. Friends where made at work – evidenced by the number of people that stood up for one another in weddings, married other employees, and participated in family events that connected others with common interests.
Having Fun and Exceeding Expectations
One of the most valuable lessons Jim took away from his early days with his mentor was the power of fun, and exceeding expectations.
Jim shares; “The basis of our work was high performance as opposed to a traditional model of operation. The ideas that we spearheaded continue to grow and expand today because of the influence that Les instilled with his mantra; GO FOR IT.
We even invented the word GUMBATE! (pronounced – gooom-baaa-TAAA) It was then followed by a celebratory tossing of hundreds of marshmallows.
The choice of this confectionery delight tied back to the lore and the stories that we told in that time. Stories become the anchor for organizations as they evolve and grow. It reminds people to have fun at work and to perform beyond the customer’s expectations. For us at Albany Ladder this mindset translated to posting earning four times industry standards.
Our people made excellent choices. I was not the only member of that company to create what they desired. Employees that were once engine mechanics and drivers went on to become fire fighters, sales people and history teachers.
Legacy of Faith and Leadership
Over the years I have aligned my strong faith as a Christian with the ideas that we instilled in our people at Albany Ladder.
- You can choose to be the predominate creative force in your own life.
- You can choose freedom.
- You can choose to be true to yourself.
- You can choose health (mental, physical and spiritual).
The influence that my life was provided by Lester was to focus and know what I want and then to choose it.
This learning came as we all studied the work of Robert Fritz in his book, The Path of Least Resistance.
Though my faith in Jesus I struggle along the way at times yet his marvelous gift of grace carries me through and I move on.
The sad chapter of my story is that we lost Lester J. Heath, III at the young age of just over 50 to extensive medical complications. Today, he lives on in our hearts and side by side with his savor whom he accepted late in his illness.
Years after leaving this company, I went on to build my own company doing what had inspired me.
Today, Center for Organizational Energy, Inc. is a curriculum development company that distributes training materials into over 65 countries, translated into over 14 languages. My approach toward training has been written about in national and international publications. Over 200 facilitators teach the techniques based on what I and my former employer, Lester, implemented in the Albany Ladder experiment.
Legacy Lives On Through Others
The greatest lesson I learned from Lester is that you can, indeed create what you desire. And, one person can make a tremendous impact on the lives of many.
Read more about legacy and leadership in Crowd Success by Rebecca Murtagh.
In the Spirit of Service,