The dictionary is where most people find definitions for terms. According to the dictionary, a “LEADER” is defined as:
(noun): The person who leads or commands a group, organization, or country.
This definition is broad and really doesn’t answer the question of “What is a leader?” To understand what a leader is, I think we need to first describe what it means to “lead”. I have a very clear and concise idea as to what that word means and who it describes. A person leads when he or she is able to selflessly help or inspire another person to find a path towards success – regardless of how significant that success might be.
Seems pretty simple, right? Unfortunately, there are two requirements that, for whatever reason, make this difficult to achieve. First, I believe that every person has the ability to lead at least one other person. Therefore, every person has the ability to be a leader. Finding people who can selflessly give of themselves to help another person find success is where the problem lies. There are fewer and fewer people who have that desire, or more importantly,WANT to help someone else without expecting something in return. We live in a “me first” society and the desire to have instant gratification is so strong that, often times, people will stop doing things if they do not see the immediate benefit to justify their actions.
Being a leader requires you to see the bigger picture. You have to see the value in not only the act of leading another person, but also the value in the journey of the person you are leading. Before you are able to do that, though, you need to acknowledge that there is a need. Our society is often times misguided when it comes to finding solutions to problems.
So how do we solve the problem of a glaring lack of leaders in our world today? We teach our kids to become leaders – that’s how! Kids are “sponges”. They want to learn, even when they say they don’t. There is a reason why the saying, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” came to be. It is because we, as adults, become stuck in our ways and have life experiences that may jade our ability to adjust or modify our way of doing something. The mind of a child is like a blank canvas. Every year, that canvas begins to show paint strokes of color (otherwise known as knowledge and experience) and as that mind ages into adulthood, the picture on the canvas becomes more defined. I am certain that if we spend the proper amount of time with a kid teaching leadership skills, at an early enough age (starting around 11-12 years old), we can positively increase the number of leaders that enter into the world as adults.
If we teach them to first identify their own individual inherent strengths and weaknesses, they can then use their own strengths to help others find theirs. That, at its core, is leading. 99.9% percent of the time, success is found when a person does something that he or she is good at and enjoys. Identifying those strengths and weaknesses is the key to accomplishing this goal. Rather than telling kids “You can be anything you want to be”, I recommend we actually take a proactive role in a kid’s life and LEAD them towards areas where they will inherently find success. Trust me; the next generation is ready to be lead. They are ready to become self-aware. They are ready to LEAD others! Who is willing to step up, give selflessly and make a difference? I know I am. Who’s with me?
By: Matt Cubbler