“If you would build a ship, don’t divide the work and give orders, rather teach the workers to yearn for the vast and endless sea.” – Antoine de Saint Exupery
This is one of my favorite quotes—its usefulness extends to leadership, branding, design, pro-bono projects, literacy action. Saint Exupéry is most famous now for his book The Little Prince, a work of subtle complexity and great imagination. But he was also an aviator, patriot and national hero in France, and one who appreciated not just good design, but good designers.
What is latent in this quote that makes it so useful is how it articulates the role of shared vision in leadership. The workers by themselves may have the skills but not always the unifying vision. A leader cannot build the ship, but with persuasive passion, can galvanize a group toward a great goal. Then, everyone shares in the voyage. Excelsior!
Graphic art by David Laufer
David Laufer is Managing Partner of BrandBook LLC, an Atlanta based design firm specializing in branding for expertise-based enterprises. He is the author of Dialogues with Creative Legends, Aha Moments in a Designer’s Career (New Riders, 2012). He is a founding trustee of the Atlanta Chapter of AIGA, the professional association for Design, and is active in Little Free Libraries, a global literacy action movement. @Dav1dLaufer – www.brandbook.us