Leadership Lessons

My husband and I celebrated our 30th anniversary in a big way cruising through the Panama Canal. Traversing that 100 year old marvel of engineering, perseverance, and creativity taught me a few things about leadership.


  1. Building something that lasts beyond yourself requires creative vision.

The builders envisioned ships larger than they knew at the time and made the canal large enough to accommodate them. How big is your vision, leader? How far out are you willing to dream? God-sized visions will be terrifying and exhilarating. Will you go for it?

  1. Use what you have to construct your vision

They used the natural rainfall and river to provide water to move huge ships and modified what was already there to create a sustainable system. Do you start with the thought that you’ll have to acquire what you need or do you first look at what you have in your hand? Who has God provided for you? What resources do you have that could be re-purposed? What resources do you have that are otherwise being wasted?

  1. Leaders who talk big and don’t dive in, lose the trust of their followers

The doctor who discovered mosquito-borne illness was almost shut down but his new boss listened to him and kept the funds available. Had he not listened, the canal construction could have been stopped. Listen to the people you lead; solutions come from them. Are you asking for their ideas? Are you listening? Are you trying those ideas?

  1. Never, ever give up.

The canal builders faced horrid work conditions and tremendous loss of life. Out of their perseverance we learned about mosquito-borne illnesses and their prevention, the canal was built, and every ship that used the canal in the last 100 years saved at least 8 days per journey.


Leadership requires perseverance. Vision will not happen without you motivating and inspiring people to join you. The vision must be kept clear and always in front of people as we are forgetful and need constant reminders about where we are headed and how to get there.


-Linda Parkhouse