Garbage In, Garbage Out: Preventing Leader’s Disease

Garbage In, Garbage Out: Preventing Leader’s Disease

Last week, my daughter, Holley, reminded me of an extremely important leadership, and life, principle. The stuff that comes out is only as good as the stuff that goes in.

This simple principle is first attributed to George Fuechsel, an early IBM programmer and instructor. Fuechsel is said to have used "garbage in, garbage out" as a concise way of reminding his students that a computer just processes what it is given (TechTarget., March 2008).

With that background, I’d like to let you in on a little secret. We won’t become betters leader by reading a book, listening to a speech or attending training. This doesn’t mean that we can’t gain knowledge, but we won’t become better leaders until we put that knowledge into practice.

We have all read great books, heard great speeches, and attended great training and then returned to our old habits. Yes, it’s true: old habits die hard! When I’m asked to speak or train, I often begin by saying:

“Knowledge without application is called trivia. It’s great for game shows and board

 games, but useless in making you a better. If we want to become better at anything.;

we have to apply the knowledge you’re gaining.”

Knowledge without application is called trivia.

The quest to becoming a better leader isn’t the search for a better method, practice or procedure; it is the search for a better life. When you become a better leader, you become a better person.

As a better person, you:

  • talk less and listen more;
  • use power less and seek consensus more;
  • rely on yourself less and involve others more.

Becoming a better leader is transformational!

Where Do We Begin?

We can’t lead by transforming everyone else; that’s called magic!

By now, you may have guessed that the greatest transformation that has to happen is within us. The question is where do we begin? Fortunately, we can find the answer in Proverbs 4:23 (NIV):

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Why is the “Heart” so important?

If we want to improve the nature and quality of our relationships – any relationship – begin with the thirteen words cited above. They’re the reason that Lead Like Jesus Encounters begin with the “Heart.”  

“Whatever a person allows to occupy his mind will sooner or later determine his speech and his actions. (” Matthew 15:18-19 says, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.”

When the leader neglects his/her “Heart,” atrophy and disease settle in. Symptoms of “Leadership Heart Disease” include, among many others, pride, arrogance, bitterness, rage, anger, slander, and deceit. Lead Like Jesus characterizes many of these behaviors as “EGO” (Edging God Out) behaviors. Needless to say, they are not conducive to an effective organization, family or relationships.

When leaders neglect their “Heart,” atrophy and disease settle in. 

Atmospheric Conditions

We are all impacted, and affected, by the environment and atmosphere that we create and allow ourselves to be in. If you want to be negative, surround yourself with negativity. If you want to be successful, surround yourself with success.

In the book Power Shifters, author Michael Pitts, explains that the things we do and respond to (music, television, books, etc.) create a spirit of influence. Over time, these influences create an atmosphere, depending on our responses to them. Ultimately the atmosphere will create a stronghold (a way of thinking).

In these strongholds, we are likely to behave in certain ways to reinforce the atmosphere. If the atmosphere is positive, we will respond positively. However, if it is negative, we will most likely be negatively impacted. So, using Pitts model, we can begin to change our “Heart” by changing our influences. The “Heart” like all muscles in the body must be exercised; but, its exercise is spiritual. We begin to exercise the “Heart” by exercising and training the mind.

We can begin to change our “Heart” by changing our influences.

Exercises for Your Heart


Changing the Heart requires that we do some pre-work and, literally, some “homework.” So, here is an exercise routine to follow over the next 2 weeks.

  1. Pray. Make prayer a daily habit. First thing in the morning and last thing at night. In Before Amen, Max Lucado offers a simple prayer:

“Father, you are good.

I need help. Heal me and forgive me.

They need help.

Thank you. “

  1.  Change your wake-up song to something that has a positive message. My wake-up song is “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. If you need something with more pep, check out TobyMac’s “Speak Life” or ‘Feel It.”

  2. Read. Immerse yourself in “positive” materials. I am currently reading “I Still Believe” by Jeremy Camp.  I purchased this book at the “I Will Follow Tour” yesterday, and in reading it, his songs “I Still Believe” and “Walk by Faith” have taken on new meaning.

  3. Pay attention to what you are watching. There seems to be a current resurgence of movies and television programs that carry positive message, so this shouldn’t be too hard.

  4. Incorporate positive talk into your daily speaking. If you don’t think how you say something matters, ask your significant other if there is a difference in these eight words:

    1. Honey, you look good in that dress/suit.
    2. Honey, that dress/suit looks good on you.

  5. Meditate: Take a few minutes to think about the positives in your life (blessings, family, friends, job, etc.). Philippians 4:8 says “Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.

The 1990s television show Captain Planet end by saying the phrase, “The Power is Yours.” Don’t let negative things, or people, infiltrate influence your atmosphere. Take this exercise routine and like a recipe season to taste. Change the sequences, order, songs, etc. to suit your needs and likes.

Remember that ultimately, the secret to change is action. You can choose to apply knowledge or accumulate trivia. 

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Gilbert Camacho

Gilbert Camacho is a certified Lead Like Jesus Facilitator with extensive leadership experience in the private, public and non-profit sectors.  He is a sought after Speaker, Trainer and Executive Coach.  Gilbert is a Registered Shared Neutral (Mediator) with the State Supreme Court of Georgia and conducts mediation for the Atlanta FEB Shared Neutrals Program.  Gilbert has been married to his best friend, Annie for 37 years.  Together they have raised two beautiful daughters, Holley and Logan.  He currently serves an Associate Director for the Human Resources Office at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.