As my staff and our board members will tell you, I’ve spent the summer remodeling a house in the Virginia countryside. It’s been highly frustrating at times, but there have been several leadership opportunities during the whole process. The most recent one occurred yesterday.
I was returning from my weekly trip to The Home Depot, and as I was driving back into the neighborhood, I noticed a cow grazing outside of the fence and along the side of the road. I could also see that one of his buddies was getting ready to escape. Clearly, these were creatures who are accustomed to seeing humans because they barely looked up from eating the grass when I stopped the car.
Over the last several months, I’ve met enough people in the community to try to figure out who to call about the bovine escapees. However, since I didn’t have all morning to wait for someone to arrive, I thought I would try to get them back into the field myself. This may not have been the smartest idea given that these “calves” weigh about 400 pounds each. When I told them to shoo, one complied quickly and went back into the field. The other one, however, took some encouragement and a slightly more forceful tone to get over the broken fence board to return to his proper home.
The whole experience made me think about finding the courage to lead even when you aren’t certain if others are going to follow (I had no idea whether the cows would do as I asked). Clearly, throughout our lives, there are no givens that just because we hold titles and positions that individuals will take direction or accept leadership from us. However, there comes a day when one is the starting quarterback, the editor-in-chief, the orchestra conductor, running the research lab or presiding over the senate for the first time. And at that moment, it is crucial for one to get over the butterflies and lead.
John C. Maxwell said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” Clearly, preparation and practice help a lot as one enters a leadership role in knowing, going and showing the way. It builds the confidence that one needs to exhibit in carrying out one’s responsibilities.
Omicron Delta Kappa recognizes and celebrates student leadership; however, our organization also offers educational programming and additional leadership occasions. Significantly, ODK provides individuals with connections to other leaders in the interest of learning from one another. I hope that many of our members will join together in early 2015 for the regional drive-in programs to share reflections on finding the courage to lead.
There are no certainties in managing programs, directing individuals or getting cows out of the road, but one should embrace the opportunity to make a difference and lead.