Archive for the ‘Leadership metaphors’ Category


April 6th, 2014 by John Gallagher 2 Comments



The three most important ladies in my life… my wife, my mother, and my mother-in-law… have spiritual gifts.  Leaders have spiritual gifts.  Therefore, the ladies in my life are leaders.  (My son told me that, in logical terms,  is a ‘valid statement’ (IAI2)).  Here is a picture of them with a few other fantastic ladies.

ladies in lifeFrom left to right: My mother-in-law, Nancye.  Her Mom, Madge.  My mom, Vickey,  our friend-Mandy Ball, my lovely wife, Chris, and my favorite sister-in-law, Lisa!

Now, I believe that my wife, mother, and mother-in-law have the gift of hospitality, but more importantly, they have the ability to take some ordinary moment and turn it into an EXTRA-ordinary experience!  What do I mean?

Recently, we had friends over to the house for a barbecue.  Of course, I would have put out the regular condiments like the ones below:

ordinaryThat really is all you need, right?  Relish, mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup.   But, my wife took the time to transfer all of the condiments into different containers to make the experience go from ordinary bottles, to extra-ordinary presentation:

extraordinaryThe containers were a gift from my mother.  My mother-in-law is famous for little presentation ideas like this.  It is amazing how she can present grape jelly!!  Call me crazy, but I think the condiments actually TASTED better from these containers.  You see, these ladies have an ability to take something ordinary like ketchup and mustard and present it in a special, extraordinary way.  Why?  Because they want to do extra work?  NO!!!!  It is because they CARE about others and want to make an ordinary burger and dog taste like an extra-ordinary experience from a 5-star restaurant!  Our friends referred to the ketchup as ‘special’, and to the store-brand yellow mustard as ‘grey poupon’.  Frankly, I have not honored these women enough for their EXTRA-ordinary love.

I believe their ability to turn ordinary into extra-ordinary has been a gift to me as a husband, son, son-in-law, AND leader.  I hope that I am able to create extra-ordinary moments for others like they often do for me, my family, and friends.

So, I have a couple questions for the Leaders who follow my blog:

1) When was the last time you turned an ordinary experience into an extra-ordinary moment for those you lead?  

2)  When was the last time you let a special person in your life know you appreciate their ability to do that for you?

Thank you, Chris.  Thank you, Mom.  Thank you, Mrs. White… for caring enough to create extra-ordinary moments for me and others.  I love you all.





June 12th, 2013 by John Gallagher No Comments

I have butterfly effectbeen wanting to read this book by Andy Andrews for a while.

The Butterfly Effect has a quote on the back that tells it all.  “Every single thing you do matters.  You have been created as one of a kind.  You have been created in order to make a difference.  You have within your power to change the world.”

Is it possible that a butterfly could flap its wings and be capable of starting a hurricane on the other side of the planet?  It does sound preposterous, but it was proven by physicists… But, that is NOT what the book is about.

There are 3 reasons I really liked this book:

1) It was a quick read.  I was able to flip through the book in about 15 minutes on an airplane.

2) I love the history references – The author tells the story of how one human being may have…well… I won’t give it away… But, it was a cool historic reference.

3) I appreciated and was challenged by the notion that I could have the power to change the world – I do believe that i was created for a purpose.  I need to stay aware that my actions at all times can impact individuals for a long time.  I do want to make a difference and realize that sometimes my words and behaviors have an impact when I don’t even know it.  Hopefully, more positive than negative, but definitely lasting.

I would recommend this book.  It does challenge how I think about my power to change the world, and I believe it would for you as well.

So, tell me… Do you feel you have the power to change the world with a single movement or word?  Why or why not?


March 23rd, 2013 by Gallagher John 2 Comments

Driving around with my wife the other day, a squirrel darted out in front of the car.  I swerved repeatedly to avoid it and to no avail, ‘klunk’.  No more Nutty, the squirrel.  I grieved…for about 2 seconds… then my wife and I chuckled about the frantic nature of the squirrel just prior to his demise.  Of course, I asked, what leadership lesson is there to be learned?  Suddenly, I found myself in conversation with my wife about how different animals in the road and how they react are MUCH like the decision makers in organizations.

squirrel in road1) The squirrel:  This decision maker will drive you crazy.  You ask them for a decision and they simply don’t know which way to go, they talk in circles, and eventually will make a decision, but the outcome is often not a good one.


deer in road2) The deer:  This decision maker often just plows right through, not looking to see if there are oncoming obstacles.  They simply don’t have others’ interests at heart.  Their decision making is not stable on the surface as well, often slipping and falling, BUT they have influence.  They generally have someone following close behind to run right through.


turtle in road3) The turtle:  Can we get a decision already?  No matter how much we encourage and push, this decision maker takes their good old time.  They will get there eventually, but they are usually way past due!


possum in road4) The possum: Oh, this is one sneaky decision maker.  And, sometimes you’re not real sure if they are really in support of their own decision, or if it is dead on arrival… Be careful of the possum!



cow in road5) The cow: Oh, you can see this one coming a mile away.  But, the close you get to decision time, you KNOW that you won’t be able to get this one to budge.  They will stand firm and just dare you to try to get them to make a change.  Good luck here!



skunk in road 26) The skunk:  Do I REALLY need to explain this decision maker?  Whenever you see this one, just go the other way.  The outcome is rarely good and it takes a long time to recover from this decision maker!!




So, which of these decision makers to you resonate with in your organization?  




February 24th, 2013 by Gallagher John No Comments

I turned the TV on and heard the announcer proclaim, “they’re entering the final turn here at Daytona…”.  The next 5 seconds or so were just fascinating.

Can’t see the video?  CLICK HERE

Amazing that all of the drivers walked away from this and that more fans weren’t injured.  My brother and I chatted about the wreck this morning over coffee and noted a few lessons (and blessings!) about this event.

1) It’s not always about winning – Generally, after a driver wins a race like this, there is a long burnout and celebration in Victory Circle.  Not on this day.  Winner Tony Stewart was subdued after the race and said this: “So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal  to us, I’m more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands  right now because that was … I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn’t  look good from where I was at.”

2) In times of turmoil, we still have a job to do – Despite the crash, the workers at the end did not have time to “gawk”.  From the safety responders to the officials at the finish line, they had work to do.  My brother noticed that the finish line workers didn’t flinch.  They were leading by example:

daytona crash 23) Always strive for perfection – NASCAR is a very safe sport.  All drivers walked away from this horrific crash, including Kyle Larson, whose front end was sheared off as parts(like the engine!) from his car ended up in the grandstand.  We were amazed to hear that ‘only’ a few fans were injured.  10 years ago, the outcome may have been different.  Continuous improvement in safety is important.

Did you see the finish live?  What went through your mind?  What other lessons are there to be learned?


February 10th, 2013 by Gallagher John 1 Comment

Basketball is an exciting sport.  It also provides great opportunities for leadership lessons.  Maybe none as big as the various teaching lessons in a recent 5 over time THRILLER when Notre Dame upended Louisville 104-101.

Can’t see the video in your browser?  CLICK HERE

I may talk about this game a few times on my blog in the upcoming weeks. Here are just a few of the teaching opportunities I observed:

1) It ain’t over til it’s over – Notre Dame trailed by 8 points with less than a minute left in the game.  Fans were leaving before the clock read 0:00.  I bet you were very disappointed when you got to your cars to beat the traffic and you heard the outcome on the radio. (Full disclosure.  I did not stay up for the end of the game, either.  Too late for me!  And, when I woke up to a text from my brother, I admit, I was disappointed that I had gone to sleep.)

2) There is no ‘I’ in Team – There was an individual on Louisville squad who, on several occasions at the end of the game, tried to take over by themselves and not utilize his teammates.

3) Always be ready – In a physical game with 5 overtimes, many players fouled out.  That means that many players who don’t get much playing time had to play at the end in critical moments.

4) How’s your attitude when you are not ‘out front’? – Garrick Sherman of Notre Dame had recently been relegated to bench duties.  In 7 of the previous 8 games, he had seen less than 5 minutes of action and in 4 of those, did not play at all!  In this game, he was one of Notre Dame’s leading scorers with 17 points — ALL minutes and points were in overtime.  He did not play in regulation.  If you stay positive, your opportunities will come and you will be MUCH more ready when the opportunity hits you.

Leaders, when you watch sports, especially your favorite teams, we sometimes miss the lessons.  Next time you watch a sporting event, tell me what you ‘see’ as a teaching opportunity.  You can use the comment field below for conversation.