In 1954, Watty Piper penned a children’s story called, The Little Engine That Could. It’s a story of an engine filled with dolls, toys and food whose engine stalled out. The toys were trying to get to the other side of the mountain by morning so that the children had the toys to play with and food to enjoy.
The toys asked many engines for help. As it turns out, each engine passed them by with reasons why they couldn’t assist them:
I’m a new passenger engine, I carry fine dining cars with waiters, I can’t help the likes of you.
I’m a freight engine and pull very important machinery. I can’t help you.
I’m a rusty engine, I’m tired so I cannot pull you over that mountain.
Then, a little blue engine stopped and asked how she could help. The dolls and toys asked the little blue engine to help them over the mountain. The little blue engine acknowledged that she wasn’t that big and she had never been over the mountain. As she looked at the tears in the dolls and toy’s eyes and thought of the children on the other side of the mountain who would have no food or toys unless she helped, she said, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.”
She hitched herself to the other train and tugged and pulled up the mountain. She reached the top and everyone cheered as they sailed down the mountain as the little blue engine then exclaimed, “I thought I could. I thought I could. I thought I could.”
Leaders can learn a lot from this children’s story. Consider this: Does the language you use every day create and forward the contribution you want to make in the world?
Someone is waiting on the other side of the mountain for your contribution.