Mark Eckhardt

Thoughts On Cool Shit That Matters

ark is a Zen Priest who trains visionary leaders, launches social businesses, loves cycling, composing music and trying to make the world spin in the opposite way.

Where Are The Shovels?

This post is definitely a pot calling the kettle black, but "Where are the shovels?"....really..."Where are the shovels?"

This is a question I rather forcefully shot at a friend of mine after reaching my breaking point of listening to the experts, innovators and thought leaders. I told my friend that "if I never read another book, watched another Ted talk, enrolled in a course, or spent hours trying to get my head around some philosophy that was dreamed up by some guy who spends too much time alone in the lab, I wouldn't miss a thing!!"

Don't get me wrong, I am not rejecting capitalism or the value of a good product or service, and some people are producing real results - I know that. I am though, seriously questioning the capacity, skill and motivations of the majority of us to truly move the ball down the field. This is what led me to shout, "Where are the shovels?"

In Zen one often hears CHOP WOOD, CARRY WATER. It is a simple concept that often gets steam rolled for more intellectually appealing endeavors- medial tasks are just not that sexy. It is also why one's early years of training spent washing toilets and scrubbing floors is so important in learning the difference between what is real and not.

Think about it, when was the last time you bent down to pick up a piece of trash, volunteered some of your time to restore a run down neighborhood occupied by people who do not look like or act like you, took a few days to dig wells in a country that has no toilets, or trained women to re-cast themselves within cultures who see them as second class citizens. This is what I mean by "Where are the shovels?"

The disconnect between making a difference verses talking about it, is so wide that I doubt that most of the advocates on the "change" speaking circuit are aware that every minute that they chip up their teeth while getting paid thousands of dollars, approximately 21 people starve to death needlessly - "Where are the shovels?"

And "where are the shovels," when one only speaks and sells to his or her peers? Isn't the effect of that simply the same people, with the same backgrounds, with the same resources doing the same thing to and with each other...exclusively?? "Where are the shovels?" 

Far too long corporations, politicians and governments have served as easy targets - this has to end. It is not about slaying the giants of society and getting them to do the right thing. This is about you, and me, facing that which we refuse to face within ourselves and the world. To find this in yourself, look for the places where you stop. Yes, those places where it conveniently becomes too inconvenient to press on.

Where are the shovels," is about waking up, seeing what you are really doing as a leader and telling the truth about it. If you can admit that, then you might be ready to grab a "shovel" and get to work. In truth, people in need don't want your academic degrees, professional resumes or your higher thoughts. All they want are partners who serve and help them in solving their own challenges and transforming their lives'.

Leadership begins with the "shovel," it does not end with it.