I love YouTube. It just amazes me that whenever I have a job to do around the house and am not sure the steps I need to take, my mind defaults to YouTube.com. No matter the subject, someone has taken the time to put a video online for the rest of us to follow. The other day I had to replace a part on my vehicle. The windshield wiper sprayer had stopped working. I checked the nozzles and lines and they all seemed to be clear. I read some forums online from others who had experienced this problem. It all seemed to boil down to the need to replace the windshield wiper spray motor on the reservoir. I looked under the hood but I could not see it, so my brain went right to YouTube. I found the exact repair video that I needed and 2 minutes later I had all the information I needed to complete the repair.

My dad was a mechanic and I remember how growing up he had shelves and shelves of Chilton auto manuals. Whenever he had to do a repair job that he was unfamiliar with he would bring down the manual, go to glossary, find his page and flip to it. The pages were usually marked with greasy fingerprints and you always hoped the text was accompanied by a photo. These manuals were costly and if you did not have the right one for your vehicle it meant a trip to the auto parts store to purchase one. As my dad started to teach me how to work on cars he always made sure I learned from the book and then from the tips and tricks he had discovered for himself. This lesson my dad imparted on me about WHERE to find information and HOW to use the information to my advantage helped me not only with working on motors but in my everyday life. It taught me that I do not have to know all the answers I just have to know where to find them and to be willing to look.

YouTube in this sense is a modern day Chilton auto manual. It is also a modern day home repair station, gardening tool, and leadership tool. I scan YouTube all the time looking for inspirational messages to share with my team. Others share videos with me, like this past week when a friend recommended I watch Vince Lombardi’s Win speech before I headed into a big meeting. So what is my point this week? Knowing WHERE to find information and HOW to obtain that information is a critical skillset in every facet of our lives; every day at work I am surrounded by people who have information I need. As a leader I am incapable of moving the needle forward alone. The algorithm of a leader’s day is this: Identify the right questions to ask + Know where to collect the information + Determine the sequence in which to apply this information = Forward momentum. Just like with auto repair manuals or YouTube “How To” videos, first you have to know what you need, go find it, and then apply it. There is no need to recreate the proverbial wheel these days when there is so much expertise right at our fingertips. I love the fact that we have a way today to share so quickly and intricately with one another. I love how I can do things in a fraction of the time it would have taken me without YouTube or other online forums like it. The lesson my dad taught me through working on motors prevails in my professional life today. My job is far from the one of a mechanic but the need to diagnoses, troubleshoot and find solutions applies to my world just the same. I am very thankful for understanding from a young age that my abilities are linked to those who came before me (be it Chilton manuals or YouTube how to videos).

One of the ways I have found YouTube useful in building stronger teams is by sharing informational and inspirational videos during department meetings.  Another thing as a leader we can do is encourage others to share videos they have seen that would benefit the team. Bill and I often share what inspired us from a TedTalk or other great talks online. So thanks to all those who contribute to my life on a daily basis who do not even know it. Your wisdom lives on.

@chrismwalden

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