This is part 3 of my series on leadership. In this post and the previous I have been sharing what I’ve learned from several books including Simon Sinek’s Start With Why, Dan Pink’s Drive, and Liz Wiseman’s Multipliers. Click to read part 1 or part 2.
My journey in leadership has been a meandering path that started in high school. As I continue to try to discover my why, my greater purpose in life, and how I will lead in that space, I thought I was look back on where I’ve been. My first real leadership experience started at Shiloh Community Church. I was part of the youth group at Shiloh. Every summer the senior high youth would go on a 2 week bike trip through different destinations.
My first trip toured South Dakota and Ioawa. On that trip I was just a passenger. During my sophomore year we toured the lower peninsula of Michigan. Again I was just a passenger, observing from the student leaders around me and my youth pastor Kendall Harger. But while I was just a passenger, I was an actively engaged passenger. Liz Wiseman talks a lot in her book Multipliers about the importance of engagement in developing your people. Kendall was a multiplier and he knew how to engage even those who were not yet leaders. He engaged us by pushing us to complete arduous feats like ride 100 miles on a bike in a single day. He pushed us by encouraging us to serve the church and the community that was hosting us each night by sharing our testimonies and leading worship, even though we were dead tired.
On my third year we were gearing up for a tough trip through the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and Kentucky. This was the year that I was no longer a passenger. This year I was to be a group leader. Group leaders were student leaders who were assigned to shepherd a group of 5-6 other students on each day’s journey. This student was resonsible for everyone’s safety and for keeping morale high in the group so that the group finishes together. The morale part can be especially hard because each rider is at a different fitness level. Some riders could ride all day going 14-16 miles per hour while others would struggle to maintain 10 miles per hour. The group was only as fast or strong as it’s slowest rider. It was a balancing act of encouraging the stronger riders to use their strength to encourage the weaker riders. As a group leader I couldn’t let the strong riders go off ahead on their own, leaving the weaker riders alone fighting the wind. If I did, I would have caused a lot of students to give up and not experiencing the accomplishment of overcomming.
I really appreciate Kendall giving me this opportunity. It sparked my servant leadership attitude that I lead with everyday in my life. I am always searching how I can get everyone’s best to work together to achieve the best out of the team. Dan Pink wrote in his book Drive something especially profound about how my generation will seek validation. He wrote,
“We’re designed to be active and engaged. And we know that the richest experiences in our lives aren’t when we’re clamoring for validation from others, but when we’re listening to our own voice— doing something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in the service of a cause larger than ourselves.”
I think I’m still in search of my cause that is larger than myself. But I know my life has been and will continue to be filled with experiences where I was given the opportunity to serve a cause that had profound impacts.
We’re designed to be active and engaged. And we know that the richest experiences in our lives aren’t when we’re clamoring for validation from others, but when we’re listening to our own voice— doing something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in the service of a cause larger than ourselves.
- Dan Pink
I hope that even just one student under my leadership experienced the feeling of finishing a tough physical challenge and was empowered to hunger for even more challenging feats.