Part of my life’s work is helping people face quandaries.  As a clergyman people often ask me about relationships, personal ethics, and God. As a business coach people ask about relationships, business ethics, and money. 

Life is filled with ethical choices that appear mundane and often lack clear answers.  How we respond to daily challenges helps build the person we are and the communities we desire.  And, sometimes, we just don’t know how to proceed.

I faced a quandary doing the mundane task of fueling my car. When I approached the pump it read, “Begin Fueling.”  This seemed odd so I hit the cancel button.  The pump still read, “Begin Fueling.”  Trying to reset the pump, I slipped my card into the pay slot.  “Begin Fueling.”  So, I began fueling.  The pump disbursed $10 worth of fuel into my tank and shut off.

Now what?

The screen asked me if I wanted a receipt.  I took a receipt and looked at it.  The fuel was paid for via credit card (not mine).  I looked around for someone watching from another car, or the cops, or to see the clerk run out from the store with an explanation.  Nothing—all appeared normal.

Here were my thoughts.

  • Who paid for this and why?
  • Perhaps this is a “pay it forward” thing.
  • If I go inside to pay for the fuel, it will be paid for twice.
  • Great!  I just got $10 of free gas.
  • I hope the cops don’t think I stole this gas.

Now my quandary; what was I to do?

What would you do in this situation?  Drop me an email and let me know what you would do.   


Tim Rhodes is a former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown, an ordained clergyman and former CEO of a $100 million multinational organization.  He is an award-winning speaker, writer and coach.  To contact Tim, email


Please consider supporting the impactful work of the Pacifistic Pugilistic Benevolent Society, where Tim is an emeritus member.


When I was a boy, my family gave our large upright piano to our next-door neighbors.  The neighbors were a South Korean family, headed by a Christian pastor and his exuberant wife.

Since the neighbors were very small people, I wondered how they would move the massive piano out our door, down our steps, across the lawns and up the steps into the front room of the neighbor’s house. Surely, they needed help.

The morning of the move, eight small men arrived at our door.  To my preteen self, these men seemed entirely unfit for the job.  They were little taller than me and were just as scrawny.  I knew I was unfit for the task and was amazed that these men would even attempt such a marvelous feat of muscle and coordination.

Working together, the team of eight assembled around the musical beast, quickly came to a strategy and lifted as one entity.  With speed and grace, they moved across our floor, out the door and down the steps.  I suspected they would stop at the bottom of the stairs. No. The team zoomed across the sidewalks to the neighbor’s steps and up and in the house they went.  As the men set the piano in its new place, they cheered.

My brothers and I followed with the piano bench.  The minister’s wife sat before the keyboard and played as the men joined in a hymn of praise.

The best part of the eight men moving the piano was the singing.  Common experiences build stronger bonds. Together, the eight took pride in their joint effort and success.  Shared joys are the sweetest and most enduring.

As leaders, we are often reluctant to build our teams.  Among our egocentric excuses are

  1. “I rank independence over collaboration”—Leaders value relationships of reciprocity
  2. “I can do it better”—Leaders trust the team’s competency
  3. “They won’t do it correctly”—Leaders empower teams find their best way
  4. “I don’t have time to explain what I want”—Leaders take time to teach
  5. “I want to be in control”—Leaders invite teams to own the challenge

BONUS!!! Celebrate your team’s success.  Recognition builds trust and confidence.

Projects succeed when we empower teams with information and independence. As leaders, we must claw beyond our egos and the perception that we alone must know and do everything.  We can’t and won’t ever have enough capacity to move the piano alone.

What is your secret to empowering your team? Email me and let me know.


Tim Rhodes is a former Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown, an ordained clergyman and former CEO of a $100 million multinational organization.  He is an award-winning speaker, writer and coach. To contact Tim, email

Please consider supporting the husbandry projects of the Canadian College of Hippopotamus Dentistry & its William Claude Dukenfield endowed chair of Ostrich Podiatry.  I am honored to serve as an at-large trustee of this fine institution.