I heard a poem long ago that really resonated with me. The poem is called The Bridge Builder and it is a story of an old man who has to cross over deep canyon with water running through it. The man crosses the ravine himself and once he reaches the other side he stops to build a bridge. A person observes his act and questions why he would stop to build a bridge when he has already gone through all of the effort to cross the waters himself?
I will let you read the poem so you can hear the answer this man gives…The Bridge Builder -by Will Allen Dromgoole An old man going a lone highway, Came, at the evening cold and gray, To a chasm vast and deep and wide. Through which was flowing a sullen tide The old man crossed in the twilight dim, The sullen stream had no fear for him; But he turned when safe on the other side And built a bridge to span the tide. “Old man,” said a fellow pilgrim near, “You are wasting your strength with building here; Your journey will end with the ending day, You never again will pass this way; You’ve crossed the chasm, deep and wide, Why build this bridge at evening tide?” The builder lifted his old gray head; “Good friend, in the path I have come,” he said, “There followed after me to-day A youth whose feet must pass this way. This chasm that has been as naught to me To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be; He, too, must cross in the twilight dim; Good friend, I am building this bridge for him!”
So often in life we hurry along focused only on getting our own things done and we forget that once we have learned the solutions in life or overcome something ourselves, that the greatest gift we can give to others is to take the time to stop and build a bridge for them that can help them to pass the same way we have without having to go through the same struggle that we did. What a gift that is to give someone else. My life has been full of great mentors who were willing to stop and take the time to build a bridge for me, whether they did that through writing books or teaching classes or sitting down one on one with me to offer me advice, they each were willing to help me to learn things more easily by helping me to learn from their trials and to learn from their experience. What a glorious gift to have given me!
And now I want my life to be about paying that gift forward by building bridges for those who will come behind me in their entrepreneurial journeys or even perhaps in their life journey. And so I will take the time to write the lessons I have learned in my career, to share the mistakes that taught me well, and to teach the keys that led to my successes. Yes, this poem touched my life and helped me to appreciate the bridges others have built for me and it helped me to recognize the importance of building bridges to those who will follow behind.
My challenge to all of you today is to make more of an effort to appreciate those who have been bridge builders for you and to commit to becoming a bridge builder yourself. Look for ways you can take what you have learned and simplify it for others and share it with others. Don’t ever get caught in that trap of insecurity where you are led to believe that by sharing what you know it will somehow devalue you – THAT COULD NOT BE FARTHER FROM THE TRUTH! Those who share openly and help others willingly are the most valuable employees that any company can have. They are the ones who will grow great enterprises and help them to sustain through the years. They are the most valuable asset to any business. Of that I can assure you.
Have a tremendous day!