Sunday, 17 June 2012 00:00

Adversity, Leadership, and Father's Day

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Yesterday, I received an email from a Dad promoting a fundraiser his adult son is conducting—a Wounded Warrior Project. His Marine son escaped being on the receiving end of the project, but he is surely haunted by memories and guilt. I do not know this young man; I can only imagine his pain. Any of us trying to live through the loss of a son, daughter, or buddy who is only starting their life intimately knows this expansive, indescribable void. This young man is trying to bring good from the nonsensical events around him—he is growing into a leader.

Father's Day

My friend's note caused me reflect on the today's holiday and myriad of fathers that will go through this Sunday with a gaping hole in their soul. Those who have a son or daughter that will be absent or altered physically or emotionally. As fathers, we are expected to pull through and be the pillar of strength. I will never forget the social worker's empathetically uttered instructions to console my deceased son's devastated mother and siblings, "He will be your support." Ominously, the "he" was me. The father—the one expected to lead the family through any parent's worst nightmare. Even though this situation was in civilian life, the twenty-something fundraiser is experiencing the same emptiness. He is working at finding ways to support himself while being a leader for his unit, his friends, and the families of the wounded. His support comes from the first step in becoming a leader: creating a vision and developing the determination to make a difference.

Adversity Creates Leaders

Leaders are made, not born. When our world turns upside down, we look for someone to put rhyme and reason to the nonsensical. Be it a terrorist attack, a bankruptcy, a hospitalization, losing a child, or simply scraping a knee while running down the street, we look for the person that can guide us through the mental landmines that lace our tumultuous day. It is times like this when leaders, like our subject Marine, look at the people around them and ask, "What do you need from me? What is in your way? How can I help you make it better?" Leaders learn to build environments for us to adapt and succeed. Disasters are the catalyst that creates leaders. Picture of Jesse Cameron Williams

Leaders Cannot Do It Alone

Leaders must work for the people they are leading. None of us is truly "at the top." We all rely on someone else—either physically or spiritually. Leaders can only help us if they understand the supportive role of a leader; we direct them in their undertaking by telling them what we need. It may not appear that we are, but we control our leaders. We achieve it through requests for help, mentoring, or clarification. By guiding how they assist us, they, in turn, help the people we are leading. It may be as simple as our Marine asking for a donation.

The Leader's Vision

The overt goal of the leader is often only a means to the end. Our emotionally wounded is conducting a fundraiser, but the goal is something other than money. The monetary token is the fiber in the rope that ties people together creating the real healing component. This young leader is building a team, a community, a village. He knows that through banding hundreds of people together with a common goal that the wounded warriors and their families will gain strength, not feeling alone and forgotten as they struggle with their loss.

Leaders Make The Difference

Cause, vision, community, drive, humility... all essential components of leadership. We see it at work. We see it in our families. The leader in all of us changes people's lives and provides them the tools to accomplish fantastic feats. They support us as we support them. They guide us as we guide them. Leadership is a cooperative endeavor that all of us must learn and participate in to create a successful society.

I hope that someday I achieve the level of leadership quality as this young Marine. Please join me in supporting his cause and please have a wonderful Father's Day.

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