THE SMALL MOMENTS OF LEADERSHIP
Back when I was a youngish paramedic, I was summoned to the local high school for an overdose. It turned out to be a 16 year old girl who had taken an entire jar of sleeping pills. I gave her an emetic (makes you throw up violently) and we settled in for the 15 minute or so ride to the hospital.
On that journey, I said a lot of things to her that I really don’t remember, all trying to get her to engage and talk. Nothing. No Response. She never said a word. I remember that feeling of frustration I felt that I couldn’t get her to engage, that I was supposed to be making a difference and changing the world and it wasn’t working out the way I thought it would. I never got another chance with her as the emetic started its work and she was throwing up her shoelaces as we pulled into the hospital bay. I left, feeling like I had failed and that it was just a matter of time before she would become another ghostly reminder of how hard and unfair this world really is.
Fast forward five years and again, I’m at work, and I’m called to the phone and it’s her, now a college graduate, about to embark on a career in law enforcement and happily engaged to the love of her life. She had tracked me down to say thank you. As you can imagine, it was emotional, we’re both crying (I was doing it in the most manly way possible) and thanking each other and babbling on about who knows what. So, as we calmed a bit, I asked her what had made the difference and she said two things: One, she said she had felt my passion and that I really cared about her, and two, I had challenged her to be better, that I had told her she had gifts that she didn’t even know about yet and she should find out what those gifts were and use them to see if she could change someone else’s life. That’s it, two things, and magic happened.
You see, it’s like that in leadership, while we may think that it’s about the big things like the new vision or the next great idea or process, the real truth of leadership is that it changes lives in the small moments. It’s in the willingness to plant the seeds of success over and over and over and yes, over again, maybe never knowing that it’s working or making a difference. It’s in the daily ones on ones, both formal and informal where you can show that you care and where you can challenge them to be better. It’s in the listening and the questioning and the daily growing of your team. It’s in the small moments that magic happens.
So I’m challenging you today to take a step back and take a look-see at where you are. I’m challenging you to rebuild or repair a relationship or even start a new relationship. I’m challenging you to use the small moments to build your team to be better than they are. But mostly, I’m challenging you to refresh, renew, and rediscover your passion for knowing who you are and how you can make a difference.
I hope you had the Merriest of Christmases and here’s to a better and brighter New Year!