Advice from a Coast Guard Commander

Charles Blaha was a client who became a mentor to me. His career as a Coast Guard commander had taught him how to lead people effectively. I was lucky enough to have a chance to learn from him for several years before he died.

One of the greatest comments he ever made to me pertained to his own landscape. He said, “When I go out to work in my yard, say, to mow the lawn, my plan is to mow the lawn but my objective is to keep the garden beautiful. So if I see some trash or some other little task that needs doing, I do it. When a company comes to mow the lawn, that is all they do…mow the lawn. All the little things that need doing are ignored as the crew strives to do the work they believe they are there to do. Somehow, if you can get your organization to see my garden through my eyes, you will succeed.”

The phrase “get your organization to see my garden through my eyes” has resonated in my mind and in my company for years. I planted a bald cypress in Charles Blaha’s honor when I returned home from his funeral in March, 2001. It still stands and is growing stronger, just like his words of wisdom. 

– Joe Hertzler, AUGUST 2007