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.
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?