Lead By Example

A Good Man – Chapter 11 – JohnA Passaro


A man who wants to lead the orchestra
Must turn his back on the crowd.

Max Lucado


For the better part of my first day on the job, Bill showed me around the store and explained to me what I would be doing during my “summer in the Hamptons.”

I had a two-pronged job description – I was to take care of the customers at the register and sort “empties” in the back of the building.

I would go back and forth, depending on which area needed my help the most.

Working the cash register was the fun and easy part.

Sorting empties was not.

On my first day, I worked by Bill’s side.

At one point in the day, Bill felt comfortable enough to leave me to work with the other store workers as he attended to other matters.

After he left, there was a slow but constant flow of customers in the store, which with the help of the other workers I was able to handle with no problems.

A good hour went by and I hadn’t seen Bill.

When a break in the customer flow occurred, I headed to find the bathroom.

While on my way to the bathroom I looked for Bill.

He was nowhere to be found.

My initial reaction was, “This guy is going to be one of those bosses who makes you do all the work while he does nothing in an office somewhere.”

I walked past his office on my way to the bathroom.

It was empty.

I finally made it to the bathroom, which was down a very narrow hallway; cases of soda and beer were stacked on each side.

I scurried down the narrow hallway to the bathroom door.

The door was ajar so I figured the bathroom was empty.

As I opened the door I realized I was wrong.

I walked in on Bill – in the bathroom.

More accurately…

I walked in on Bill on his hands and knees in the bathroom.

Cleaning the floor.

“What the heck are you doing?” I asked.

“I’m cleaning the bathroom,” Bill said.

My initial reaction blurted unfiltered out of my mouth,

“Why are you cleaning the bathroom?

I mean aren’t you the boss – can’t you just make someone else do that?”

I will never forget his response.

He said, “How can I ever ask someone to do something I am unwilling to do myself?”


It has been often said that Steve Jobs changed the world.

Sometimes I think – not always for the better.

At least for parents.

There is no doubt that Steve Job’s passion to create a device that could store all of a person’s music in the palm of one’s hand revolutionized the world.

But it also came with some unintended consequences for parents.

For the first time in history, parents were no longer part of their kid’s music purchases.

All of a sudden, every kid had the freedom to acquire and listen to “their” music without his or her parents being able to listen in.

In the old days, if a kid was blasting music with questionable lyrics, a parent was able to hear it and make the necessary adjustments.

After Steve Jobs invented the iPod that was no longer possible.

Old school skills of music censoring by parents became obsolete.

New skills were needed.

Hence the surprise iPod check.

My attempt at filtering which songs were right for my kids to listen to has been the cause of many a fight in my house over the years.

One day after doing a surprise inspection of my son’s iPod, I was livid.

I demanded he deletes all the songs on his iPod which had lyrics alluding to sex, drugs, violence or profanity.

This would have basically cleaned out his whole newly acquired song catalog on his iPod.

We argued.

The basis of his argument was that I was a being a hypocrite. He felt that many of the songs on my iPod referred to similar subject matters.

I laughed.

I said, “You won’t find a single song on my iPod that even remotely comes close to having questionable song lyrics like yours do.”

He immediately grabbed my iPod, spun the click wheel to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and pressed play.

“Mama, I just killed a man.
I put a gun against his head
Pulled my trigger now he’s dead.”

“Do you really think I am going to go out and kill a man after listening to this song?” I said trying to pull the words back into my mouth as soon as I said them.

“Mama Mia, mama Mia”, I heard the song continue.

“Easy come, easy go…will you let me go?” The song played on.

I had a choice to make.

I could either delete Bohemian Rhapsody from my iPod or prove to my son that I was asking him to do something I was unwilling to do myself.

“How can I ever ask someone to do something I am unwilling to do myself?”

“I will not let you go,” the song played on.

Oh, yes I will.

And I did.

I don’t believe that listening to Bohemian Rhapsody has ever made me want to kill a man, but from that day to this, you will not find that song on my iPhone.

How could I possibly have one set of rules for myself and another set for my kids?


Read the next chapter – The Cost of an Enemy


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