Leaders Act

by  Mike Henry  |  Self Leadership

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt

Do you ever feel as if you are lacking something?  One of the great passions as we become more global in our knowledge of others is comparison.  We seem to constantly focus on what we don’t have or didn’t get.  “Someone is more gifted, more attractive, smarter, younger or wealthier than I.”

I am constantly reminded of my own tendency to compare myself to others with more when I want something but I compare myself to others who do less when it comes to obligation.  Tom’s wealthier than I am but I give more to the church than Archie does.  Why don’t I compare my giving to Tom’s and my earnings to Archie?

Notice how when you do that, you give your limitations authority over you.  They dictate your situation.  You have given them the ability to direct your focus to inactivity.  When you adopt President Roosevelt’s attitude above, you reclaim the authority over your circumstances and your world.  You dictate the results; you transform yourself from victim to creator within the space between your ears.

In every instance there is a best thing we can do.  For Christians, I refer to that as the most-Godly response.  What is the most-Godly action I can take?  For anyone wanting to be successful, we must do the most-Roosevelt response; we must always do what we can with what we have, right where we are.  Rather than focus on the things we cannot do, giving them authority to make us a victim, we choose instead to focus on what we can do and we become a creator.

Leaders don’t make excuses. Leaders make a difference.

Are you creating your future?  Care to offer some ideas or encouragement for others?  Don’t just click away from this page.  Share an idea on how you will create your own future this week.  How will you do what you can, with what you have, right where you are?

© Tatiana Belova –

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About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Jen Kuhn  |  18 Nov 2010  |  Reply

Hi Mike,
I LOVE this post!!! Thank you for writing it. I believe that people become passive because it’s safe. If I don’t take a risk, (stand up for my beliefs, donate my time, do the project I’ve been procrastinating,etc) I won’t risk ridicule or failure. Yet in my opinion, following that passive approach, one also does not experience life to it’s fullest; one cannot fully embrace the joys of life without also experiencing it’s pain.
Kelly Ketelboeter (@KetelboeterPR) and I discussed something along these lines a few weeks ago. We were talking about how “ignorance is bliss”. It’s true. It also carries with it a heavy burden. Underlying that bliss is true knowledge. This knowledge can only be suppressed for so long. Eventually, truth starts to seep into awareness, cause discomfort and force your hand. At that point, you can choose to do nothing, or choose to make a difference. Either way, there is a choice that results in a behavior. Doing nothing is a behavior.
Thank you for posing the challenge to do something, anything! And to challenge ourselves to take a closer look at how we view others and the world.

Mike Henry  |  18 Nov 2010  |  Reply

I should have guessed you’d be one of the first to comment. I appreciate your passion for action. You’re definitely a partner in the War Against Apathy. Glad to be on the journey with you.

I agree there is a knowledge. We know the truth when we hear it. We can try to get away with taking more than we give, but deep down inside, we know it’s wrong. We can eventually kill that truth, but in doing so, we lose our friends and our chance to make a difference.

Glad to be in the battle with you. Mike…

Tristan Bishop  |  18 Nov 2010  |  Reply

This is excellent, Mike!

I believe each of us was made to matter. We simply have to take what we’re given and “give it everything we’ve got.” We have a responsibility to fan our gifts into flame. I’m grateful for character-based leaders who remind me how much is truly possible.

I appreciate your continual encouragement!


Mike Henry  |  18 Nov 2010  |  Reply

Great tweet! KnowledgeBishop’s key to success: “Take what you’re given and give it everything you’ve got.” Well said.

Every person in this group is capable of leading and creating. Thanks for adding to the post! Mike…

William Powell  |  19 Nov 2010  |  Reply

Mike, I love the transparency and vulnerability in this post. We all have this conversation internally, but you have decided to put on a high traffic website. Good for you!

I think this post can really speak to younger leaders just getting into leadership. They handicap their own potential by deifying their superiors and marginalizing their ancillaries. An absolute golden lesson to learn early and something we all can give more attention in our lives.

Thanks for the great reminder. Going to use this to finish my year strong.


Mike Henry  |  19 Nov 2010  |  Reply

Thanks for the comment William. In my experience, I do better when I can confront my own issues as my own instead of trying to convince others they have those same issues.

It is too easy to allow my circumstances to create FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt). We can always do something, many times more than one thing. So we (uh, I mean I) always have a choice. Will I choose to let my fear, uncertainty and doubt control my behavior?

Glad to share the road of choice, choosing to act and to create value, with you. Thanks again, William.


Susan Mazza  |  22 Nov 2010  |  Reply

Makes me think about the adage “we become what we think about”. Thinking about our lack gives us no access to taking an action that can make a difference. Any moment spent comparing ourselves to others is a moment stolen from the possibility of our future.

As for me…I have a book to write. Time to get moving in a serious way this week!

Mike Henry  |  22 Nov 2010  |  Reply

Susan, this is a wonderful reminder. This week as we think of things we’re thankful for, we’ll become more thankful. But it’s a great reminder to never focus on our obstacles but on our objectives, like your book.


Joel Peterson  |  22 Nov 2010  |  Reply

Hi Mike,

I really liked your article today. On a busy Monday full of distractions before the holiday, it made me THINK!

I’m thinking first of the parable in the new testament of the three men that were entrusted with different amounts of money according to their abilities and told to do with it as they saw fit. Remember that? The first two went out, put the money entrusted to them to work and doubled its value. The third dug a hole and buried the money given to him focusing only on protecting what was given to him.

All other meanings of this parable aside, I have always read it in terms of skills and abilities. God has given each of us unique skills, abilities, talents, passions. We can choose to keep them to ourselves or we can put them to work for the greater good.

Still, I’m thinking of what might cause a leader not to act. Fear certainly is a cause as is lack of knowledge or experience. You also mention the ways we limit ourselves through comparisons to others as a cause of us not acting as leaders. I’m also thinking of those moments when its not fear or anything else except sheer exhaustion that gets in our way of acting. It sure does for me.

I feel so blessed with everything given me as a leader that I often risk burning myself out. Where I trip up most often is in the moments when I am tired or feel as though the energy I am putting forth on other people’s behalf is being sucked into a black hole of unquenchable need or worse, a bottomless pit of thanklessness. Have you ever felt that as a leader?

In those moments, perhaps these questions pop up: “Why do I always have to be the one to see that things get done?” or “Why am I always the one people turn to for this?” or “Seriously…?? Me again…Am I really the only one you could ask?” or quite simply “I just don’t feel it right now. Why should I?”

Ultimately, through support of loved ones and the holy spirit, I am brought out of my emotional traffic jam and I see that the answer to the question of “Why me?” (for me personally) is: because you CAN. God gifted me with my own special blend of skills, abilities, talent, and passion. They only work when I let them and when I enact them fully.

Yes, I get tired now and then from being called TO ACT and lead. In those moments, taking your excellent point, I find it works best if I do what I can with what I have, right where I am. One day perhaps I’m on at 120% and the next day, I tire and dial it back to 60%. Again, the point is to do what you can with what you have wherever you are (including mentally and emotionally). Our level of engagement and/energy as leaders may ebb and flow just like everything in life ebbs and flows. However, we should never just stop. We should never not act if we’re able.

Taking your words again, rather than focus on the things we cannot do (or do not want to do), giving them authority to make us a victim (or dare I say whiners), we choose instead to focus on what we can do (at the level of energy that we have in that moment) and we continue to be creators…as we were meant to be.


Joel Peterson

Mike Henry  |  22 Nov 2010  |  Reply

Thanks Joel for the detailed comment. We do find all sorts of ways to make excuses to either under-perform, which was the original focus of the post. We can also become distracted by what we “can” do and lose sight of what we are gifted to do. I do too many things. Many times I see the need and mistake that for my personal responsibility. That’s another discussion altogether.

Thanks again, Mike…

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