The Jeep Wave


Several years back, I became the proud owner of a Jeep Wrangler—one of my all-time favorite cars. I pull out of the dealership and another Jeep passes me and the driver waves. What a friendly place, I think. Over the next couple of weeks Jeep drivers continue to wave at me. Do I know them? Are they mistaking me for someone else?

Finally, curiosity got the best of me and I turned to my old friend, Google. Here is what I found out:

“New Jeep owners soon discover a tradition that has been around perhaps as long as Jeeps, the Jeep wave. Some may think it’s strange or even silly, but before you judge perhaps take a moment and consider this.

During WWII the Jeep was always on the move, often running back and forth from the front lines delivering vital supplies or urgent messages, or carry wounded soldiers, attempt rescues or bring reinforcements. Some say this is where the Jeep wave began as a way to know friend from foe or acknowledge an officer without a salute that might alert enemies of a high ranking official. Or perhaps it was just a simple gesture from soldier in one Jeep to another Jeep as they passed. A sign of camaraderie and respect between courageous souls in dark and dangerous times. This practice continued when they came home from war.”

This simple wave immediately made me feel part of an exclusive club with a strong history. It made me feel part of something bigger than myself. Isn’t this an objective of most leaders? We want to create a culture that supports a mission or a belief. Sometimes, we just make it more complicated than it is. A simple wave from a complete stranger accomplished that goal for Jeep owners.

How can we apply this to leadership in our organizations? What lessons can we learn? Here are a few thoughts:

· People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, something they can believe in

· We need to find the thread that connects our people and strengthen it

· It is not always about intricate plans and/or money when trying to establish a culture or trying to re-culture our schools-it can be something simple that represents that big idea, something simple like a wave.

You need to be brave and commit to the idea. If you are shy about your idea, people either think you don’t really believe or are too embarrassed to share, so why should they follow

Would love to hear thoughts.

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