2010 President's Message

With Arms Outstretched

One of the highlights in my life is seeing people grow by taking on new or different responsibilities and expectations. When you think of the world in these terms of the knowledge available to us, we really do live in exciting times. The amount of information at our fingertips is gigantic — almost incomprehensible, and the opportunities we encounter in our lifetime to learn and grow are truly remarkable.

The model of a successful Brubacher team member is one that has his (or her) arms fully outstretched — one arm reaching up and the other arm reaching downward. With the arm reaching upward and linking to someone else, you are a student; the one stretched down joined with someone else symbolizes the coach or mentor in you. Let me explain why this is so vital to our company's success ... and our own personal growth.

When your arm is reaching upward, you are a pupil eager to learn and grow. You are getting out of your comfort zone by learning from others who are teaching you new skills and abilities. This student is someone who is successful because he or she is never complacent with their know-how; they are life-long learners.

While embracing new learning opportunities, this person is also reaching downward and coaching someone else who is eager to learn and is trying to get to where his mentor currently stands. This student-mentor connection applies to anyone — whether it is the newest laborer on the jobsite or the owner of a company.

It is vital for us to maintain life-long learning attitudes so we can remain fresh and relevant to those we serve — whether it is an employer, a customer or an owner. Our goal at BEI is to keep from becoming stagnant — to always grow and help others do the same.

Further, by striving to be a life-long learner, we increase our value, build relationships and open doors for collaboration. In short, because of a willingness to grow and share, we will be viewed by others as a vital contributor.

Finally, the student-mentor stance provides a great sense of personal fulfillment. It builds a sustainable organization and prevents isolation. It creates a legacy — being remembered for who I am, not simply what I do.

Of course, there are some obstacles to overcome. One is a stubborn attitude. Unfortunately, many talented individuals lose opportunities because of a negative approach towards learning and mentoring. Many organizations will choose a person who knows less but is willing to learn, over a person who thinks he knows it all.

Another excuse used is "no time." No time to learn and no time to teach. This simply isn't a valid or acceptable reason because we somehow always find the time to deal with the aftermath of others we failed to coach. Sometimes this is tied into the "tough love" excuse — where someone says, "I learned the hard way, so should they." This is an unsafe attitude, especially when it endangers the lives of others.

And yet another obstacle is a fear that the person you are mentoring may become better than you. However, great coaches get rewarded with new opportunities. If this excuse was valid, the legendary Joe Paterno would have been out of a job a long time ago.

To fully reap the rewards of success - both individually and as an organization - remember to ask yourself: Are my arms fully outstretched? Am I seeking the input of others to grow my skills, or am I closed off? Am I helping those who are where I once was and best serving them by sharing my knowledge?

Success is built around people who have their arms fully outstretched. If you only have half of the equation, you become unbalanced and lopsided, and that hinders growth, development and accomplishment.