Do you want to build a chicken coop or a house?

I have a friend who owns a farm. It’s a small farm, but still; he’s got chickens, sheep, goats, pigs, cows, and produce in the summer.

I went up to visit him for a weekend and we spent the better part of the weekend building a chicken coop. Just the two of us, with some power tools, lumber, and his knowledge of carpentry.

He also significantly remodeled the 100-year-old farmhouse that they live in. That took more than a weekend! It involved a lot more people; plumbers, electricians, concrete work for the foundation, earth movers, forklifts, all kinds of equipment.

For the two of us to build a chicken coop in a weekend was a reasonable task. But he would have been foolhardy to attempt to remodel his house without the help of skilled craftspeople, some of whom were experts in things he didn’t know anything about.

Working alone, we can accomplish great things. Useful things. Things that can make a difference and last.

But there are some ambitions that require the coordination of a lot of hands and brains that know things that you don’t have time to learn (and likely don’t want to do). That coordination of many skilled hands to create something big, impactful, and lasting is what managers and leaders do.

I know that some of you are comfortable being a “company of one”. You don’t want to manage people, you don’t want to complexities related to growth, and that’s fine. We built a fine chicken coop that weekend.

But some of you are more ambitious, you want to achieve something bigger and more lasting, you realize that to accomplish your dreams you are going to have to coordinate the work of many hands, some of whom will know how to do things that you don’t know how to do. That’s a big challenge — and one we’ll talk more about on Thursday.

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