What’s YOUR Lollipop Moment?

Leadership: “the everyday act of improving each other’s lives.”

~ Drew Dudley, TEDxToronto


I attended TEDxABQ over the weekend here in Albuquerque. The various presenters offered thought-provoking, poignant, exciting ad challenging stories. But one really caught my attention and made me realize a new definition for leadership.

stripped lollipop

We were shown a TED presentation by Drew Dudley, Everyday Leadership, in which he challenges the commonly accepted definition of leadership. Too often we only associate “leadership“ with famous people: Steve Jobs, President Obama, Stephen Hawking, and so on. Something most of us will never attain.

And then Drew posed a question, “What about everyday leadership?” relating it to his story about a lollipop. Watch the very humorous and insightful video if you’re curious.

The main point from his talk is that something as simple as offering a lollipop—a simple, authentic connecting gesture—can have a major impact on one or more people.

And this got me thinking about lollipop moments in my life. Those moments that really connected me to another human being, intentionally or not.

Long ago when I had waist-length brown hair and very short skirts, I taught 5th grade. And I unknowingly made a deep connection with one of my students. She and I continued to connect off and on by mail after I left the area. Now, almost 35 years later, we still keep in touch. How cool is that?!

She became a teacher, because of me. I unknowingly had a great impact on her life. And that moment has rippled outward from her life and career into the lives of others. And so it will continue to be passed on.

That’s really powerful.

Throughout my life I have been labeled a leader for the typical characteristics assigned to the broader definition of leadership. And while I relish those skills, my standard leadership has been on a much smaller playing field than someone on the scale Bill and Linda Gates.

And yet…I have impacted others’ lives.

I know I have had connections with others that have made a difference in their lives. And I probably have had other impactful moments that I may never know about.

But that 5th grade experience is special because it’s an early reminder that I have been an everyday leader for a long time, often without even acknowledging it.

And that feels more important than getting people to follow me, or join in my cause, or convincing them to share my opinions.

I have impacted others’ lives.

I proudly claim my everyday leadership.


Your Call to Action:

Where have you improved someone else’s life? How does it feel to claim this as leadership? How does this new definition change how you view yourself?


What’s YOUR Lollipop Moment? — 4 Comments

  1. Have one that I remember from years ago. I hired a college student while he was in his junior year to help with installing software for our customer base. He was an interesting fellow and I helped him getting to know customers and how to interact with them to understand their needs. I never realized that I helped him with his future career choices until I saw his posting on Facebook page as one of my friends. He said the things I taught him helped him in his career and that he uses what he learned from me constantly in his career.

    My second Lollipop moment was quite an eye opening event — I just attended my 50th high school reunion. I Didn’t recognize anyone until I could see their name tag.
    I said hello to one women and she said do you remember that you took me to the senior prom?
    I said yes but did not recognize her. Boy did everyone change. My wife and I were the ones
    that looked like we hadn’t aged as much as everyone else. Quite an eyeopening event.

  2. Isn’t it a cool feeling to recognize that something we have done has rippled off into the future?

  3. Hi Robin,
    I just read your blog about lollipop moments and I realized that you were talking about me! I read the bold letters she became a teacher because of me. I looked again for proof and sure enough I was the subject of your blog! Yes, we all were touched by your teaching and simply the way you related to us as chidren that could think and discuss our thoughts with you. When you taught us reading you met with us one at a time and helped us find a love for reading. We all loved the long hair and your stylish high heeled shoes, which are back in style now!
    This year at work I met one of my former students. It is always a very precious moment to know that you have touched someone’s life.

    • lol, the mystery is solved! I’m always thrilled to get your yearly update. And, you now have a legacy, too! How cool is that?