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leadership development
bed bugs
leadership positions
entrepreneurial experience
leadership skills
sweet dreams
cecelia
better tomorrow
first day of school
fortitude
breaths
Leadership Development From Life Situations
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Leadership during tenuous times requires resolve, fortitude, and the ability to display and encourage a sense of hope for a better tomorrow. Leadership positions are more than just what happens on the job. The following is an example of how you can use situations that happen in your life to develop your leadership skills. I have over twenty years of successful senior leadership and entrepreneurial experience to my credit. I developed my leadership skills more from the following incident than during any job before or since.

"All right, gang. Goodnight. Don't let the bed bugs bite. Sweet dreams," I said as I began to close the door of the bedroom.

"Dad?" It was Cecelia, my middle daughter. She was four at the time.

"Yes, Hon?" I answered.

"Another big storm is not going to come tonight is it?"

"No, no. No storm is going to come here." I said it with a resolve I did not feel.

"Are you being honest, Dad." This time it was Natalie, our six year old and the oldest.

"I took a deep breath in through my nose with my jaw clinched. My eyes were streaming. The darkness of the room my only ally. I exhaled slowly through pursed lips and mustered the strength to respond. "As honest as I can be, Darling."

"It is going to be okay, Dad." This time it was Elliott, he was only three.

I closed my eyes and fought back a sniffle. Despite my angst, I chuckled. The corners of my clinched lips rose. We would be okay, I thought. We would be okay.

"I love you all so much. You do need to go to bed now though. Nat, you rest easy. You get to go to another first day of school. You’re so lucky." I was intentionally smarmy.

"I'm scared, Dad'" she answered.

"I know, Hon. I am too, but it is going to be all right." I closed the door till it was only six inches open and said, "Goodnight."

I stood outside the door for a minute listening for disturbances. I took long controlled breaths in through my nose and out pursed lips. When I was sure all was calm, I turned and headed down the stairs. I could hear my wife sobbing.

Seven days before, we awoke at five in the morning. I turned on the television and was met by frantic pleas to evacuate. It was August 29th, 2005 and Hurricane Katrina was hours away. Days before this, we were living an angelic life. We had a home on the beach and more material things than most. I had worked and been blessed by a successful business. Natalie and Cecelia had started school the week before we would leave. Elliott was still at home with my wife, Eydie.

Our evacuation initially led us to Vicksburg, where we had secured a room in a hotel adjoining a casino. We selected our facility based on its distance from the coast and the fact that it had generators to power it should it lose power. This proved to be essential as Vicksburg would be without power for nearly a week.

Two days after the storm we had pulled up a Google earth map that showed satellite pictures of the coastline. We knew the devastation of our coastal community was without comparison. The eye of the storm had passed over our town, and most assuredly over our house. The only trace of our home was the slab on which it had been built. My wife and I knew, though we did not state it, that we would not be back.

Three days after the storm, after hours of broken text messages (satellite services had been disrupted), and cryptic conversations on undependable cell phones, we found ourselves in Oxford, Mississippi. Through the kindness of friends (at this time in the world, we met no strangers) we were living in a two bedroom condominium, that was about the size of the entry way to the house we lost. Despite this we were gratified beyond words. We knew there so many not as lucky as us. These included families, many who we had yet to contact or confirm were still alive.

My wife and I led. We got our children registered in school. Six days after the storm, they returned to their school schedule. We knew that routine would be vital. Alone, she and I clung to one another. "What are we going to do?" was our mantra. But this was when we were alone. When we were on stage in front of the children, we looked happy. We expressed excitement about our situation and the opportunity to live on. We were gracious for every morsel of good that the world offered. We were not going to have Katrina be the defining point of our lives. True leaders find goodness and hope even when times are dire.

Our children had only the toys that they could squeeze in their backpacks, so we invented games. One of our favorites was rolling down a steep embankment behind the condo and then, dizzy, getting up and trying to run back up the hill. Finding fun in the direst of situations is truly a leadership quality to be developed.

One year after the storm, and we were living in Oxford. We had moved into a new home. I had a new position and dreamed of a better tomorrow. We had new routines, new friends, we did new things, and we were happy. Life seemed normal. This can not be said for many of the people that weathered this storm, and I am truly sorry for them. I know this storm devastated many. I hope they are recovered today.

True leadership knows that the next sunrise is only a day away. Rather than separate your leadership job, from your leadership life. Use the travails of your existence to better yourself and your leadership ability.

Thanks for reading.


Street Talk

This was tough for me to write. Was it tough to read? Anyone?

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  about 1 decade ago
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