A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

03 February 2009

New Bottles

I'm sure you've heard someone dismiss an idea with the statement, "oh, that's just old wine in new bottles."  It's a way of accusing someone of labeling an old or familiar concept as something new.

Perhaps you've drunk some old wine out of a new bottle lately -- tried a new weight loss plan (doesn't it all boil down to expending more calories than you consume?), seen the latest James Bond movie (let's face it, the plot is pretty much always the same!).  In fact, we humans often seek out the old wine for its dependable familiarity -- but at the same time, we love the new bottle because it refreshes the experience.

In the leadership development business, there are thousands of books, tapes, classes, articles, and "flavors of the month" for helping you, your career, and your company be more effective.  And some of the best, and bestselling, authors of those materials will come right out and tell you that what they are saying is not new.  A truly unique approach to leadership or business success is incredibly rare, and ones that work are even rarer.

But that is not to say this "old wine" is not rich, complex, flavorful, and satisfying.  Quite the opposite!  A "back to basics" approach to leadership may be the greatest innovation you'll ever see in a business setting.  Common sense is anything but common, and like an effective weight loss plan, it's not a passing fad and it's not easy, quick, or effortless.

There's nothing wrong with putting a fresh face on timeless ideas, if that will inspire you to act on them.  So feel free, as you build your legacy of leadership on a foundation of honest communication, clear mission, and meaningful goals, to create a beautiful, shiny new bottle to wrap around it.  By all means, put that old wine into a new bottle -- and drink deeply!

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