The Fourth Rung: Paying the Price

The story of a firefighter unable to climb because fear is a great example of what leadership can do to some people. It’s when the leader has almost achieved the top of the climb and fear sets in paralyzing them. Finding out who the leader is and what they are made of can only be found out when things get tough.

During difficult times, the leader is tempted to do something drastic. They may freeze like the firefighter in the story or decide to come back down and start again later. They might even give up on this ladder and decide to go back to what seems like an easier climb. Lastly, they might just decide to take that one last step and climb to the top. The ultimate decision is made in the leader’s mind.

It is a decision. When things get tough a decision is required. Staying in one position is still a decision. It is at that point that the leader needs to come to terms with their belief in God. When the leader recognizes that it is possible to look outwards. God will usually choose to use those around him or her to help.

I remember back to the ladder I had to climb up in order to paint at the top. Trusting at the bottom wasn’t very difficult because I was close to the ground. It wasn’t even tough to stay up there on the top and paint. The toughest part of the climb was when I was almost to the top. That’s when the ladder shook the most and fear became a real factor in my life.

In order to paint the top, I had to get to it. That was my focal point. I had to realize my purpose was to paint the very top of the house. To get there, I had to use that ladder and trust it would hold me. This chapter is about focusing on the top in order to successfully conquer the ascent. The ultimate goal of both ladders is getting to the top, but the character ladder comes out to be the best one to climb because everyone gets to celebrate with you.

I have learned that I must consider the cost of leadership as I reach for that last rung.


Thrall, Bill, McNicol, Bruce and Ken McElrath. The Ascent of a Leader: How Ordinary Relationships Develop Extraordinary Character and Influence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1999.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s