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Leaders, They May Be Closer Than You Think

In 1964 while ruling on an obscenity case, United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously asserted that he would not attempt to define hard-core pornography, but stated simply, "I know it when I see it." Leadership can be a nebulous term for us to define, be we certainly know it when we see it.



My personal experiences with leadership are a mixed bag. Some endeavors have gone well, while others could have gone much better. Growth has been appropriately represented by a squiggly line. Carol Dweck's research on growth mindset appeals to me because it helps frame setbacks as learning experiences and opportunities to improve. I do not have to look far to observe stellar examples of leadership, I'm surrounded by them.

My wife, Natalie, a second-grade teacher of twenty-plus years, spends a couple hours each evening providing feedback on her students' classwork. She also spends several hours each Saturday at her school preparing lessons, updating bulletin boards, and writing learning targets on the board. She does all of this to give her students the best possible learning experiences. It's a good thing her district doesn't pay by the hour for her dedication, they would need to pass a referendum. Leaders are committed.

My oldest son, J.P., is twenty years old. In addition to being a college freshman, also manages a Jersey Mike's restaurant. His interest is in business management. J. P. is gaining authentic leadership experience that's hard to duplicate in the classroom. He is embracing a learning path that is unique from all of his friends. Last week, he attended training sessions at Jersey Mike's corporate center. It's deeply gratifying to see how enthusiastically he faces the daily challenges of running a business. Leaders are passionate.

My younger son, Trevor, is a high-school junior. He possesses a unique combination of curiosity and intelligence. Trevor could have taken an easy pathway to academic achievement. Instead, he has filled is schedule with honors and advance placement courses. An anchor of his school's mathematics team, Trevor is consistently at the edge of his learning comfort zone, and he seems to enjoy the challenges offered there. Leaders are driven.

The most impactful teachers in my life, my parents, rose through their career ranks without a wealth of formal education. They unquestionably demonstrated the value of hard work and commitment, while balancing the requirements of home and labor. Lifelong learners, they taught my younger brother and me anything is possible with determination and desire. Leaders balance and prioritize.

Speaking of my brother, Bud, he, like my parents has overcome obstacles and reinvented himself as a leader. He and his wife have battled health issues through the years, but this has not diverted him from becoming an administrator in a local municipality. While many folks lament over what they don't have, Bud's going through life enjoying what he has and laughing along the way. Leaders have a positive attitude.

Leadership can be described in many ways and can be revealed in a variety of contexts. I'm not sure if people are born with leadership qualities. It seems people are presented with opportunities to lead. There are occasions when I feel I fall short as a leader. However, I look forward to future chances to grow in this area, I realize I still have a lot to learn. Fortunately for me, I don't have to look very far for leadership models, some of the best are just an arm's length away. Still difficult to define, I have thrived under the guidance of others, and I am thankful knowing leadership when I see it.

Comments

Jenny R. said…
Thanks for your post, fellow #EdublogsClub member! I never thought of my own children as examples of leaders in my life, but it is true. (I just naturally tend to think of leaders as older than me or in a position of authority.) But my daughter shows me how to enjoy life more – sing and dance to it. My youngest son reminds me to trust unconditionally, and my oldest son teaches me to hug and snuggle more with the people I love. My mom shows me that it is possible to deal gracefully with a chronic disease, and both my parents have modeled what it means to have a good work ethic.

Thanks for your sharing.
abealarcon said…
Robert:

I like your examples of leadership because they are real people in real situations and do not come from research or a textbook. Your description was inspiring.

Keep up the good work!
Thank you, Jenny and Abraham. I enjoy people-watching, particularly young people. There's so much to be learned from their innocence, curiosity, and honesty. I'm surrounded by leaders in my school, but the leaders having the biggest impact on me are those I see most regularly in authentic settings.
I appreciate you taking the time to reading and commenting on this post.
Bob

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