Leadership / Followers

Leadership Moment — 22 Nov 21

It can do you good to follow sometimes!

Mark McMillion
4 min readNov 23, 2021


Photo by Quintin Gellar from Pexels

I have a friend who is a real craftsman with wood. He builds custom furniture, cabinetry, display cases, and so on. His attention to detail and standards are amazing. Sometimes, Jim sees things as flaws that I don’t even notice.

There are times in my leadership business when I’m not overly busy. There are always things I could or even should be working on but . . . don’t. There are times when Jim needs an extra pair of hands. When these two times converge, I drop the mantle of leadership guy to become a novice.

I am not a skilled person in terms of carpentry. Not a complete idiot, but my abilities are rudimentary. Working with Jim fascinates me. With Jim, I’m the guy who steps-and-fetches tools, materials, whatever he needs. I try to anticipate what he’s doing so what he needs next is ready.

Today was one of those days. A pleasant young couple hired him to build two sets of built-in bookshelves with a gas fireplace between them. Together, the shelves and fireplace will cover an entire wall of their living room.

Jim built the shelves in four sections: two large base cabinets and two sets of shelves which rest on them. He’d also made tops for the cabinets which he sanded and stained beautifully. With no exaggeration, sometimes I look at a piece of wood he’s worked on and just pause a moment to soak it in. It doesn’t even have to be part of something yet!

Today, I was the guy who helped carry the sections, push, nudge, or bump them into place and then hold them while he fixed them in place. Jim rarely makes mistakes and when he does, he figures out how to fix them with no drama and very few curse words (another lesson I need to learn!).

I always ask questions but not too many. After all, I’m not paying for a carpentry lesson (though I always get one!). I don’t want to distract him from the skilled work and it’s still a great opportunity for me to learn.

I’m a huge fan of Stephen Covey and his seven habits. Watching Jim work is a textbook lesson in Habit 2 — Begin with the end in mind. I’m never there when he begins his projects. As a result, Jim is on a raft going down…



Mark McMillion

Retired Army officer with two tours in Baghdad, married with four kids. Proud West Virginian and West Point grad. Works available on Amazon.