By Rick on June Legal, 2014

Several years ago, I had the honor of interviewing Millard Fuller on the topic of leadership and listening. Millard founded Habitat for Humanity International in 1976 and served in executive roles until 2005. Through his stellar leadership, Habitat grew into a worldwide Christian housing ministry and in 1996, former U.S. President Bill Clinton awarded Fuller the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, calling Habitat “…the most successful continuous community service project in the history of the United States.”

Understanding the force behind his extreme influence became clearer to me as he defined leadership as ……»writing on a blank sheet of paper». Millard explained, «Leadership is being out front and taking an organization, a group of people to a fresh place. And this is very different than administering. There is a excellent need for good administrators, but a leader is one who takes you to another place… and that’s the reason I say leadership is writing on a blank lump of paper. Many tests in school and college are numerous choice or pack in the blank. It’s very different to write an essay on a blank chunk of paper than it is from packing in the blank or doing numerous choice. Leadership is going beyond the borders of where you are and taking your organization or the group of people for whom you have responsibility to another place… hopefully another and better place.”

When the interview turned to the topic of listening, Millard said, «I have a very superb interest in the subject of listening. A chapter in one of my books is entitled ‘Listen To What You Say’ because you are the only person who has heard everything you’ve ever said. Many other people have heard parts of it, your wifey or your parents or your best friend, but you have not missed any of it. I jokingly tell people I’ve had to listen to every blessed one of my speeches and that’s the reason I don’t use notes anymore because I attempt to keep it interesting for myself. You do influence yourself by your own words. Be careful what you say to yourself because you are listening to it.»

“Listening is the art of indeed being totally open to the other person and even however you might not agree with that other person, its truly understanding what the person is telling because in conversation there are spoken words and there are unspoken words. There are nuances. There are inflections in the voice. There is bod language. And… if one is not a good listener you miss all that other stuff. And therefore you do not receive the total message that’s being conveyed.”

Millard’s wisdom has left an incredible legacy for us to learn from. What excellent stuff will you write on your leadership blank sheet of paper? Maybe today is the day for you to begin. LISTENING PAYS!


By Rick on June Legitimate, 2014

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