I Work for Smiles

By | March 15, 2019

[March 15, 2019] I’ve known Billy Ray for close to 30 years, and he has been a feature in one of the many rural towns where I lived. Billy Ray is not the smartest guy around, and neither is he rich or famous. But he leads a small group of amateur clowns that bring smiles to be needy and sickly children throughout eastern Pennsylvania. One day I asked him why he went to all the trouble. His answer, I work for smiles.

Billy Ray is a leader. Many would disagree that he rates being a leader but I know better. He is the kind of person you can’t say “no” to his request. If he asks, you will deliver. And he does this in the most kind-hearted way imaginable. Billy Ray leads a ragtag, gaggle of clowns every weekend to children in a hospital, orphanage, or some special gathering (e.g., Special Olympics).

It is worth repeated a long-running theme here at theLeaderMaker.com; that leadership is hard but doesn’t require a high education or money. Leadership rests on the principle that the person in charge has a heart and a willingness to care for others. Compassion is necessary but not the sort where we see it becoming the overriding concern. Being a good leader means making good choices.

Billy Ray and his entourage of clowns, have to choose where they go and what skits they act out. His acts are in demand but, like any smart leader, he has priorities that he somehow developed in his younger years. For example, he will go to see terminally ill children first. That is where he does the most good. He tells me that nothing matters more than a child about to die and you see them smile, ear to ear.

Clowns work for many reasons and lately, some of them have given their profession a bad reputation of fear. Billy Ray doesn’t work this way. He receives no money for his efforts; he takes care of his expenses out of pocket. The planning, prioritization, assessing the need, and using past lessons figures into every event he attends.

Why do clowns work? Just like Billy Ray tells me, they “work for smiles.” In a way, we are all like Billy Ray; we strive to become leaders because we care about others.

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

23 thoughts on “I Work for Smiles

  1. Eva Easterbrook

    I enjoyed your blog post today. Thank you!

    1. Big Al

      Spot-on! That’s why I keep coming back here. Another well-written article.

  2. Willie Shrumburger

    Clowns have gotten a bad name lately because there is this drive to make them scary. In fact, some kids of my frineds are actually now scared of clowns. I hope the clown association (or whatever organization that gives them guidance steps in). I will do my part to help kids appreciate clowns.

  3. Eric Coda

    Good article for this Friday as we get ready for a camping trip this weekend. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for sharing your experience with a man who devotes himself to these children. I wish there were more like him.

    1. Tracey Brockman

      Safet trip, Eric. I’m looking forward to being outdoors more now that the weather is slowly approaching Spring time. I love the outdoors and am involved in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. My wife and I help groups of boys and girls to learn about outdoor activites.

  4. Andrew Dooley

    “Dick’s Pulling Firearms, Hunting Gear from 125 Stores Amid Continued Backlash from Pro-Gunners”
    The CEO of Dick’s is Edward Stack. He became an anti-gun advocate and used his stores to push a political agenda. He did it “for the kids.” Yeah right. This is what happens when one is infected with a PC ideology that is based on Marxism. You are the arbitrator of what is morally right and you make the rules. This is how tyrants work.

    1. Doug Smith

      I started boycotting them for this very reason. These people think they are above us “deplorables.” Hahahahah

    2. Maureen S. Sullivan

      I wrote nutjob Edward Stack CEO of Dicks Sporting Goods to tell him I would never set foot back in any of his stores because of the new rules that he arbitrarily changed. Got no response. Okay! I’ll never be back. Fine with me. And I don’t own a gun.

      1. Gil Johnson

        I’ll buy at their “going out of business sale.”

  5. JT Patterson

    I belong to the VFW and we do volunteer work for a number of other organizations that specialize in kids. Anyone who doesn’t know the importance of encouraging and educating kids with the right mind set, needs to rethink their priorities in life. Go out and get involved. The Special Olympics is one but there are many like the Field of Dreams.

    1. Shawn C. Stolarz

      Good to see you back in Gen Satterfield’s leadership forum. I like your point that we need to assess our life’s priorities and working with children in some way or another should be high on the list. Too many people farm out their child educational responsibilities to others that don’t have the care of children right in their minds.

  6. Janna Faulkner

    Great article today, Gen Satterfield. Your friend is very special. Please thank him for us when you see him next.

  7. Yusaf from Texas

    Loved the story about your good friend Billy Ray. I too knew a man who went around my state of Texas to help young children learn more about the Bible and how it could influence their lives for the better. He did this with slapstick entertainment. It was absolutely great fun to watch him with kids. They had a connection with him instantly. Only a few people can do this.

    1. Douglas R. Satterfield Post author

      Some psychologists say that this “leadership” over others is innate. I’m not so sure. What I do know is that it can be learned. Thanks for sharing your story too, Yusaf.

  8. Max Foster

    It is interesting that we make the link between caring (in this case working for the smiles of children) and great leadership (like General Patton). I know that Gen. Satterfield has done this before but in the world, it is a rare link that sticks. Obviously something to this caring thing!

      1. Darryl Sitterly

        Yes, I’d forgotten about this. Point well made.

    1. Len Jakosky

      Correct and think this is what provides the burning inspriation leaders need. Called motivation, we all need some form of it. Otherwise we are just like the bottom feeders in the local pond.

  9. Army Captain

    Correct, it is really about caring. There are leaders who do it for themselves but they will never be considered real leaders and the people who work for them know it.

    1. Mr. T.J. Asper

      This is the point that I try to make to my students and players on the school football team. It’s more than about you, it’s really about others.

  10. Anita

    Billy Ray must be a great friend. You are fortunate to know him.

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