I heard a TED Talk last week and I was reminded why leadership is really a series of everyday moments. Drew Dudley told a story about how one thing he did several years ago ended up being a turning point in someone else’s life. The funny thing was, he didn’t even remember doing it. I think this is probably true for most of us.
We are all leaders in our lives, our families, our communities, our work and just about every opportunity we have to touch other human beings. Leadership is not about a title, it’s about what you do as a human to help or inspire others. Dudley talks about it as times when “you fundamentally make someone’s life better.” If we take that as the most basic definition of leadership, we can all do that, every day.
One of the reasons I work with entrepreneurs is that they make such a difference in people’s lives, and rarely do they have any idea of the ripple effect of what they do. Things like giving a high school kid a chance to learn new skills and get started in the professional world, even though they are completely clueless about most everything when it comes to “work.”
One of my entrepreneurs from last year’s Emerging Leaders class had hundreds of responses on Facebook when she asked for past employees to help her with stories about how their first job had impacted their lives. The outpouring was amazing and touching and she had not remembered most of the circumstances of the stories.
There are so many facets and connotations of “leadership,” most of which start with leading something big or grand, or having a position of authority, or somehow being in charge. When in reality, those are only some of the ways you can lead. Leadership is not about making anyone do anything. It’s about inspiring those to do for themselves or to join with others to do something together. Good leadership is fundamentally about making someone’s life better.
So how about for the month of October we pay attention to those around us and just ask how we can make things a bit better? A coworker having a bad day, a parent at the grocery store with a screaming child, an elderly shut-in who might need a visit, a team who needs a helping hand. Good deeds are never forgotten. And that’s leadership.
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt