I am the least likely person to ever start or lead a company, in the traditional sense. I don’t have an MBA; I actually went to a Sylvan Learning Center all through grade school. I graduated high school with a mere fourth-grade reading level and never passed any financial certifications, failing the Series 65 investments license test three times.
Yet with that unpromising background, I have managed to build a successful brand in one of the most competitive and oversaturated (pun intended) sectors of the beverage industry: water. I may not be much of an advert for education, but I hope my story may encourage you to believe that anything is possible if you’re willing to take some risks, work for it and consistently execute a routine.
Generosity Water was birthed when I was sitting on the board of a nonprofit that was building water wells all over the world. There is a global clean water crisis—more than 745 million people still don’t have access to safe drinking water, and this epidemic problem kills more people every year then war, AIDS and famine combined.
As a board member of an organization completely dependent on donations, I was inspired by the idea of starting a company that could develop an economic engine and a transparent giveback commitment, that for every bottle sold we would help keep clean water flowing to people in developing countries.
This is our mission at Generosity Water, together with a desire is to inspire other businesses to not be driven solely by making a profit, but to aim their products and services in the service of humanity. We are committed to the long haul, and I have learned an important lesson along the way for anyone pursuing a vision, whether it’s in ministry, business or some other area of their life.
It’s this: The results are not your responsibility!
AN IMPOSSIBLE BURDEN
If you are a leader, you need to realize that people will constantly put expectations on you to perform and “deliver.” Only after trying to carry that impossible burden for a season did I come to see that it was not my liability.
In 1 Corinthians 3:7 (NIV) the Apostle Paul spells it out: “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow.”
In business, it’s generally understood that when leading people it is best practice to establish clear roles and responsibilities, so that your team doesn’t have to carry unnecessary burdens. Otherwise they are likely to end up performing at less than their potential best.
The same thing is true for leaders. When I realized that God is responsible for the growth, the increase and the end result, I immediately learned the power of accepting my role as a leader. This concept of understanding your fit in the masterplan of your purpose—or your role in the organization you work for, or even your role in your family—is critical for successful leadership.
When you seek to understand how your function, no matter how important, plays into the bigger picture of your community or the company you’re a part of, you allow the ethos of something sustainable to start forming.
A MORNING ROUTINE
When I first started Generosity Water, I was so caught up in the whirlwind of the day-to-day—building distribution, hiring and onboarding talent, raising capital and maintaining our mission of building water wells—that I completely lost sight of what my own role and function as the leader of the organization was.
I was so busy trying lead every part of my business that I took on the burden of the entire organization’s results. I quickly learned that for me to better lead our organization, I needed to learn how to lead myself first.
One of the best qualities of a good leader is vision, but oftentimes we don’t build a strong enough infrastructure and system to help bring it to life and keep it alive. As a result, our zeal for our vision changes and we can become easily distracted by all of the unsustainable opportunities that arise. Our original vision and growth potential slowly fade into the background.
One thing that I have done that has transformed the way I lead is establish a morning routine—my system of leading myself well before trying to lead anyone or anything else.
It all started with creating a habitual system that has allowed me to grow and demonstrate discipline. In our household we call it “Win the Morning, Win the Day.” Here are the habits I’ve built, even through the disruption of COVID-19, that have shaped an infrastructure to help me lead myself and our company:
Each item represents a queue that triggers the next item. On days that I’m tired or my body is hurting from the previous day’s workout, these habit queues are essential in ensuring I do not break the cycle. This system has allowed me to prove to myself that I can consistently lead and grow my capacity. It also prevented me from getting comfortable while being at home all day while isolating!
AN EXPECTANT ATTITUDE
My wife, Bethany, and my team—my greatest sounding boards—have noticed that since I implemented this system I have more energy and enthusiasm. We have seen more momentum in our company, and my marriage is the best it’s ever been (because I consistently make my bed every morning!).
If I can start and lead a company, and develop to where, even with my academic history, I am reading two or three books a month, then anyone who is willing to humble themselves and focus on leading themselves well can do the same. I am fully convinced that with God anything—and I mean absolutely anything—is possible.
People always ask me, How do I know that, competing with some of the best companies in the world, from Coca-Cola to Nestle, our company is going to be successful?
My answer is: I don’t. All I know is the result is not my responsibility to worry about. My responsibility is to lead myself well (sowing the seed and watering it) and to inspire and develop my team to grow. As long as we keep growing as individuals and as a team, I can live with whatever the outcome is.
Having said that, I am majorly expectant. Because I am confident that by letting go of the need to be in control of everything myself, I am giving God room to do more through me and my team than we can imagine, as Ephesians 3:20 promises.
Every Leader’s Superpower
As a one-time reluctant reader, I am now convinced that reading is every leader’s readily available superpower. Here are five books that have been hugely influential in my growth as a leader.
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action by Simon Sinek
Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by Sean Covey
Increasing your Personal Capacity by Eddie Windsor
Limitless: Upgrade Your Brain, Learn Anything Faster, and Unlock Your Exceptional Life by Jim Kwik
Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Tim Ferriss
This article was extracted from Issue 1 of Inspire Magazine (Spring 2021). Learn how to get your copy of Inspire Magazine here.
Micah Carvalho is founder and CEO of Generosity Water (www.generositywater.com). He and his wife, Bethany, have three children, and live in Beverly Hills, California. He writes about his experience in leadership in the dept Let it Go!: Success is more likely when you recognize it’s not your responsibility...
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