Lamia’s Story

A Critical Doer has a servant spirit


By what a man gets he makes a living.  By what a man gives, he makes a life.

Winston Churchill 


A few years ago I briefly met a remarkable couple named Lt Gen (ret) John and Jan Bradley.  Even though I played a very minor role in one of their projects, it’s doubtful they remember me…but I will never forget them.  Their story is one of the inspirations that helped me begin to articulate the philosophy and concept of a Critical Doer.

As Commander of the United States Air Force Reserve, Lt Gen Bradley made frequent trips to Afghanistan.  During one trip, he met a little girl named Lamia who desperately needed shoes.  The following article from Airman Magazine tells the story of how this chance encounter turned into a calling of compassion for the Bradley family…take a look.

It may surprise some that a general officer with the skill to successfully lead an organization that exceeds 70,000 people would not move into the business world where that kind of skill would command top dollar.  It’s not a surprise that the truly great leaders are great because they possess a servant spirit…meaning they are motivated by the fulfillment that comes from mission accomplishment and doing right by those who trust in their leadership far more than the compensation.

From their desire to serve came a nonprofit organization to help educate Afghan girls.  They even named the organization after this particular girl…Lamia.  It’s worth noting that the Bradley’s had no experience in running a nonprofit organization.  What they did have was life experience, some contacts, and most importantly the willingness to personally invest in bettering others where the rewards are only intrinsic versus tangible.  Here’s a brief story on one of their successes.

This is the key in distinguishing the person in charge from a leader.  The person in charge, and nothing more, works for personal benefit while a leader works for the benefit of all who follow.  Can it be any surprise that those who live their lives by this mantra consistently accomplish more and that the things they accomplish are significant?  The Churchill quote that opens this post tracks perfectly with this idea, and studies consistently show that people that have some aspect of service to others in their lives experience less stress, find greater fulfillment, and no surprise to me actually accomplish more.

I challenge you to take a good look at where you can adopt a greater sense of servant spirit.  It could be at work where you change the focus of your effort from promotion potential to customer value and fulfillment of those you lead.  It could be setting aside some leisure activity to invest in others in any number of ways.  It could be changing the lives of young girls in Afghanistan like the Bradley family.

Adopt a servant spirit and you will accomplish more because you will have become worthy of followership.  It’s what a Critical Doer would…do!


Reminder:  you can get automatic updates from The Critical Doer by using the subscription widget at the top of this post.  You can also follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  I also encourage you to let me know what you think of the posts or share a story of your own using the comments section or email me directly at [email protected].


Updated: May 9, 2015 — 3:00 pm