Dolly Parton owns a compound just a few blocks from our house in Nashville. It sits among a bustling walking neighborhood of shops and restaurants. Most passersby never notice the southwest-inspired complex, which is surrounded by an eight-foot fence and an ever-closed gate across the drive. I say ever-closed to describe the gate, but that’s not entirely true. A couple of days ago, the gate was open. I have walked past the open entryway countless times, but the open gate caught my attention. I snapped a photo. I didn’t see Dolly roaming about her place, but I did get a peek at the recording studio inside and the other buildings in the complex.
I had another peek into Dolly’s world this week. I interviewed author James Patterson for the June 8th episode of the Leadership Lab podcast. Patterson and I discussed a recent book called Run Rose Run that they wrote together. Patterson shared what it was like to partner with Dolly and how the two of them ‘inked’ the book deal over a conversation, not over a conference table. He gave me a peek into what it was like to work with Dolly.
Dolly Parton has done a great deal in her life. She’s:
- Won 11 Grammy awards
- Sold 100 million records on her label
- Written over 3,000 songs
- Appeared on the country music charts each of the last seven decades
- Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
- Performed on television and in film
- Opened a theme park called Dollywood
The list goes on and on.
I would contend that of all the assets Dolly has, her two biggest assets are the ability to see the needs of others and her willingness to take action. Human history is full of great talents or people who amass immense treasures, but many fail to do what Dolly does. She partners empathy with action.
Here are a few examples of Dolly making use of her two most significant assets:
- Donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University Medical Center to support the early stages of development of the Moderna vaccine during the COVID-19 pandemic. In March 2021, Dolly rolled up her sleeve and was vaccinated, encouraging others to join her.
- Created Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which mails one free book per month to 850,000 kids worldwide.
- Her “My People Fund” gave 900 families $1,000 per month over six months to offset the losses they experienced during the 2016 Great Smoky Mountain wildfires.
Let’s Take a Peek at Your Assets
As a leader, one of the biggest challenges you have is that there are so many things to do, opportunities to tackle, and problems to fix. It can be overwhelming. But the reality is that your success is not defined by trying to do everything. Your success often stems from tackling a few critical things.
The way to best tackle those few critical things is to know what you and your team bring to the table. What are the two most significant assets you have, and how can you employ those toward what’s most important?
This week’s leader tool will help you identify your two most significant assets and give you space to explore how to put them to use. Fill out the tool on your own or with your team and enter into a conversation about what you can start doing today to have a more significant impact tomorrow.
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.