[November 23, 2017] In the early days of my military career, I thought it important to copy the behavior and speech of those known to be the very best leaders. It came naturally, it seemed to me at the time, to find out what those leaders did when they were not “working” – for example, what they were doing on Thanksgiving Day.
Over time I got a good idea why those leaders were so respected and admired by everyone. It was a simple philosophy that each had adopted; selflessness. They were out on every holiday (and whenever they could muster up the time) to provide help to others less fortunate than they. They were not out to get credit for what they were doing or to gain respect but to actually help. I saw them at soup kitchens serving food, at hospitals visiting the sick and injured, at food pantries helping distribute supplies, etc.
“In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out. It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being. We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.” – Albert Schweitzer, French-German theologian, writer, philosopher, physician
One thing that never escaped my observations was that they were there to help bring cheer to those around them. I asked one who was my mentor who said that most of those needing help were destitute and needed a little joyfulness brought into their lives. Those leaders would talk for hours about anything people wanted to hear; their goal to help bring a little happiness. But they never mentioned the high-level job they held; humility at its best.
Of course, they should never ignore their families so many brought them along. In particular, if the leader had younger children, they would bring them to help out just like an adult. It gave the children a chance to see and hear about those who were not so fortunate. A little dose of reality never hurt any kid or young adult. And it mattered not which holiday it happened to be.
I adopted the same philosophy and had the honor for several years to be a bell ringer for the Salvation Army. My daughter up until she was 15 came along to help. She rang the bell at times and brought in more donations than I ever did; must have been something about a cute little girl asking for donations that made the difference.
The best leaders are those who are out to help others. They can show it anytime but times like Thanksgiving Day is an opportunity that a smart leader should never forego. That is just one more of life’s lessons that I always have in my leadership rucksack for use anytime, anyplace, or for anybody.
Happy Thanksgiving 2017 !!
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