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Leadership: First Things First

Part 1 of 4

We marvel at the beauty of a water fountain as the top tier pours out water into the basins beneath it and overflows into the remaining ones. Before the water is poured from the top, it must be supplied by a reservoir of water underneath the entire structure. Birds come and drink from the fountain while men and women rest nearby to be soothed by the gentle sound of water spilling over continually. As beautiful as this sight is, without the reservoir of water to draw from, the entire fountain will become as dry as a sun-kissed desert.

Using this analogy, as leaders, we are the top tier of a water fountain. We nourish and refresh those around us with our positive attitudes and compelling visions, daring them to go where they have never gone before. However, we can only make a difference in their lives if we are pulling from a reservoir of a strong inner character.

Therefore, if we aspire to grow as leaders, our first priority must be to strengthen and improve our character. We can only give to others what we already have; and if we continually work on what is on the inside, there will always be more to give.

There are various ways in which we can become a leader of strong character—a leader who waters others. In today’s blog post, we will explore one of them.

We can make a commitment to becoming a person who keeps our word.

Former Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper once said, “There is no greater fraud than a promise not kept.” In his prominent role, we can imagine that he faced greater threats to his country than a broken promise; however, he clearly showed us the gravity of our word.

If you find that this area of your life needs to be improved, here are 3 actions you can adopt to grow in this area:

1. Be slow to make promises

Do you ever notice that you are more likely to make a mistake on a task when you are hurrying? The same is true for making promises. Take the time to carefully consider your inner and outer resources before making a commitment.

2. Write down the promises you make

It is natural to forget what you had for breakfast or what you did two days ago. And with many things competing for your time and attention, you can forget our promises too. Recording your promises in a specific and easily accessible location and reviewing them daily can help to keep you accountable.

3. Reflect on what it means to become a person who does not keep your word

John Maxwell shares in his book Today Matters that persons are more likely to commit to something after they have counted the cost. You stand to lose the trust between yourself and those you influence if you continually break your promises, no matter how simple they are. Without trust, the foundation of our relationships will unravel.

The journey of character development can be long and difficult. But let us be encouraged by the image of the well-watered fountain—not only for ourselves—but for all who will benefit.

Join us in our next leadership article for another step we can take to fill our inner reservoir.


Maxwell, J. (2005). Today Matters: 12 daily practices to guarantee tomorrow’s success. Center Street Publishing.

The Leadership Series



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