Line in the Sand - Leadership SHIFT Tip
Around 168 B.C., a Roman envoy named Popillius was sent to tell King Antiochus IV to abort his attack on Alexandria. When Antiochus tried to play for time, Popillius drew a line in the sand around him and told he had to decide what he was going to do before he crossed it. He acceded to the demands. -National Geographic
This is the first known reference of drawing a line in the sand, as told by Ben Yagoda, a professor of English and journalism at the University of Delaware.
Popillius made it look easy. He sounded strong and absolute as he removed all doubt. With confidence, he set up the hard choice when he drew that line in the sand.
On which side do you wish to stand?
Are you with me or not?
It’s a simple, straight forward question. When drawn clearly, it shouldn’t even take much thought to answer.
But it is when challenged by the swirling winds of life. What looks so unambiguous fades in the sands of competing agendas.
Honoring our values, from personal to corporate to country, should be our lines in the sand. They serve as the compass that guides us through tough situations.
They are the declaration of what is absolute and non-negotiable.
It sounds so easy until our values collide. Then we realize that standing for something is difficult. It is a choice that requires courage to overcome our fear and accept the consequences- especially when you serve many tribes.
This week Kenneth Frazier (Merck), Brian Kranich (Intel), Thea Lee andRichard Trumka (A.F.L. — C.I.O), Scott Paul (AAM), and Kevin Plank (Under Armour) resigned from President Trump’s American Manufacturing Council.
The President crossed a line that was unacceptable to them and millions more.
Twenty-two CEOs didn’t resign before President Trump disbanded the council. Which values were they honoring? If they had a line, where was it drawn? Of course, the easy reaction is to judge them for not resigning.
It’s harder to look in the mirror and ask, “What would I do if someone crossed my line in the sand?” Hopefully, it’s a deal that is non-negotiable.