The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Throughout this summer, I have had the honor and pleasure of interviewing some of our community's leaders. As the new school years begins and our summer comes to an end, I think of all the other individuals in our area that daily make a difference in the lives of those around them through their leadership.
Whether by parenting, teaching, building, planting, harvesting, mentoring, volunteering, or many other styles of influence, we are blessed in our community to have so many people that care and give of their time, money, and lives to make Henderson County not just another rural area, but a "home".
Rather than summarize all of the wonderful advice and words of wisdom from those interviewed this summer, I would like to conclude this series with a few lessons on leadership I have learned from a large number of unnamed and under five foot tall individuals.
While kids are constantly learning, growing, and developing, they also often have lessons they are teaching us. Although most of them are unable to articulate their "words of wisdom", that does not take away from the weighty impact of some of their words and actions.
Three lessons in particular on leadership, and on life, are highlighted below. Many thanks to those who have volunteered their time and words along the way, and also a thank you to all of those leaders in our community who daily make such a difference-your work is appreciated!
Lesson 1 - Listen. I do not know how many times I have yelled that word (or have had it yelled at me!) sometimes adding a "please" to the phrase. Yet, over and over this summer kids have taught me that they are listening:to everything.
They listen to my tone of voice, the language I do or do not use, the larger words that they try to add to their own vocabulary, to what I say and how I say things even when I am not talking to them, and above all, they pay special attention to how much I listen to them.
Those interactions have brought special attention to my own listening habits. How well am I actually listening to those around me? How aware am I of what I am truly saying and to whom? Many times I have been told that more than half of leading is listening.
Lesson 2 - Have long-term goals. One of my favorite questions to ask young children is, "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
As these little boys and girls answer, "Scientist!", "Doctor!", "NBA Player!", "Teacher!", "Farmer!", they are in a way formulating their long-term goals. With a little guidance and direction they will learn to figure out what they are doing in the present to reach those goals in the future.
What are my goals? Where am I headed? And what am I doing today to open the door for those opportunities later? Leaders help to keep those long-term goals in mind even while moving forward.
Lesson 3 - Laugh. Kids laugh. Sometimes they laugh so hard they cry, or they start to laugh even when they are already crying.
The ability to laugh, whether it is to diffuse a situation, shed some pressure off of a stressful day, or simply to enjoy the moment with family, friends, or co-workers, is a special gift.
Many times this summer when I have become overwhelmed with a situation and am reacting with either frustration or hectic activity, a child nearby will simply laugh.
Whether it is at me, at the television, or at something completely unknown to normal adults, that laughter is an instant reminder that I need to stop for a second and simply ENJOY the life around me. May the year ahead be filled with meaningful conversations, wonderful opportunities, and fits of laughter, and may you ENJOY the adventure ahead, in leadership, and in life.