Taking a break from dating debacles and reverting back to some real pressing matters I bring to you a column on leadership. Inspired by a great many things, this column is a hommage to all things community and what I feel is the true definition of leadership. This article in no way suggests that I believe there to be a distinct crisis in meaning, or translation rather, of the word leadership. I swear.
The first thing that comes to mind is that to lead one must eliminate the desire for recognition and move forward leaving their egos behind and narrowing in on building community, whether organizational or neighborhood. Leadership is visionary and while coincidentally that may result in becoming an iconic public figure, these two characteristics are not so reliant upon one another. Case and point? A leader doesn’t require a great deal of exposure to lead. Those who embrace this ideology, in my opinion are the individuals who truly lead with passion, both selflessly and successfully.
What the Hell is she Babbling About?
Being the Founder of an organization whose mission is to support and help build community through true advocacy and volunteerism, I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with some remarkable people. Daily, I am astounded by the initiatives and work of those who are leading this region into a vast and flourishing future. So much so, that I no longer question Dayton’s bright horizon. While recognition is warranted seldom do I hear their names mentioned. Humble and focused on the bigger picture, these people don’t feel it necessary to be rewarded by public attention, however I believe the city and its people would be inspired by hearing more about their stories.
The Leaders (My Inspiration)
Scott Sliver – The Hope Foundation of Greater Dayton
Rosemary Dannin – The Foodbank Dayton
Shondale Atkinson – The Mustard Seed Foundation Home
There was a reason I chose these three people to speak at the launch of my organization last winter. It may sound entirely strange, but I don’t think that I really understood what it meant to build community and cultivate all the good there is in a region to form an alliance and do great things, until I met these three individuals. Their stories and deep personal connection to their organizations’ missions is something out of the ordinary to me. Their passion and focus on the big picture “Dayton”, is something to be commended.
It is because of these three people I know that each day, I think about what I can do to make a difference in someone else’s life. Why I challenge myself to be great and to lead with vision not personal gain. Most of my adolescent life I struggled with wanting to be part of the in crowd, with wanting my name known and in the last few years of my life I have let go of such superficial ideals and focused on what I was put here to do and that is … change lives. Surrounding myself with people like Scott, Shondale and Rosemary is what keeps me grounded. By definition, these three people are leaders and both selflessly and successfully. They are the “We”, the “Us”, and the “Our” in this region who every day of their lives put the well being of others and their city before their own. That is leadership and that is what will ultimately shift and shape “a new” in our region. They are GEMS of Dayton and there are many more.
The spotlight is a great place to be but can distract and poison at times, a leader’s vision. If you’re struggling because you feel unrecognized think more about the lives you have already touched rather than getting attention from those you for whatever reason have not yet. Remember that there is no finish line in leadership, certainly not an award or medal.
The other day I asked my Twitter community to define leadership and the recurring theme was putting your ego aside. So I leave you with a quote of encouragement to back that theme.
“Recognition may stroke the ego, but touching lives will stroke the soul” – Shana Douglas
If you’ve been given an opportunity to lead…there is a reason. Never doubt yourself.