It’s the 4th of July, exercise your independence!

Happy 4th of July!

Today marks the celebration of our independence as a nation, punctuated by cookouts, parades, fireworks, and apple pie. And while it’s extremely important to remember the freedoms we have as a nation, it’s also important to realize the independence that you have as a human being and a leader.

Our forefathers knew that independence and freedom did not come easy, and today as I think about what it took to create a free nation, I also think about a phrase that is been running through my mind the past couple of years, and has really been guiding many of my professional decisions.

“It takes a bold move to make a bold move.”

It was certainly a bold move to come to this land and create a new country, and it also takes a bold move for you to exercise your independence as a leader.

One of the most important characteristics for a leader to develop is confidence. Confidence in your abilities, confidence in your decisions, and confidence that even if something feels difficult or uneasy, it’s still the right thing to do.

And sometimes, that means saying no.

I got the chance recently to work with Jody Kneupper, GM of Wet ‘n’ Wild SplashTown in Houston, Texas. It was great getting to know Jody and his employees, and helping them focus on outstanding customer service. But what led me to this post where the conversations I had with Jody over the few days that I got to spend in Houston.

We exchanged stories about growing up in the attractions industry, and I got to hear more about Jody’s experience and the path of his career. There were a number of decisions that Jody made that led him to where he is now that are probably diametrically opposed to conventional wisdom. They would certainly be considered bold, and ultimately they led to Jody being very happy in the position that he is in.

Jody told me that as he moved around the industry he had one major criteria that he would consider if a new opportunity presented itself, such as moving to a different part of the country and working at a different park. That criteria was, “if I got stuck here, would this be a position I would like to be in long-term?”

There were a few times in his career that the answer was actually no. This allowed him to NOT take positions that ultimately would not have made him happy.

Would these positions have been possible career builders and opportunities to climb the corporate ladder? Absolutely! But for Jody, he knew that these positions just where not right for him at the time, and he had the criteria to back up his decision. This led to him having the confidence to know that it was okay to say no to these opportunities.

So, was it bold to say no to these opportunities? Yes!

Did it take confidence to know that this independent thought was going to lead to better things in the end? Yes!

So thinking about your life or your role as a leader, what sort of bold move or independent thinking have you been considering lately? And by independent thinking I don’t mean starting a new nation, however, doing the things that great leaders do can sometimes feel like that kind of burden.

If there are things that you’re holding back from doing, ask yourself the question why?

  • Do you think you’re going to get in trouble?
  • Do you think someone is not going to like your decision?
  • Do you think that ultimately it will hurt you down the road?

While these are all valid feelings, they can often create a level of fear that stops us from making a bold move which stops us from being the independent leader that we know we can be.

So today, on Independence Day, think not only about the independence of our great nation, but think about the independence that you have as an individual and as a leader, and what you can do exercise that independence, ultimately to make your life, family, or job better.

Thanks for reading!


About the author: In addition to being a highly sought after speaker, Matt is also a drummer.  Drummers practice independence by trying to get their arms and legs to do vastly different things, all at the same time.  Might explain why drummers are a little “different”.  :o)

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