Thursday, February 12, 2009

Appearing Through the Mist

While presenting a leadership program in Wilmington on Tuesday I asked, "Where do leaders come from?"

Amelia, a smart, quick, and articulate attendee, said, "They appear through the mist." The room immediately went quiet. It was one of those moments in which you hear something profound and you have to sit for a moment to decide what to do with it.

"They appear through the mist."

Read the phrase one word at a time.

The word "They" infers that there can be more than one leader. Looking for one person, one savior, one charismatic individual often leads us to deny our own leadership qualities and responsibilities. Loading the responsibilities for leadership, for change, onto one person is an easy dodge. If life doesn't work out like we would want, it's his/her fault, not ours.

"Appear" can't happen unless we are looking. We know the areas in which we need leaders, and we know the characterstics we need in leaders. So, when we experience leadership, we know it. If we have given up, or if we have an unrealistic assumption of what it takes to be a leader--ex. "they just don't look like a leader,"--leaders don't appear.

Leaders appear "through" the mist. If we let our fears blind us it's like being in a totally dark night. We can't see help even if it's standing next to us.

The "mist" is the problem (or problems), issue, challenge we face. We have to stay calm and keep looking. The mist may make it difficult to see more than a few feet ahead. At that point, we should slow down, get our bearings, and patiently call out into the mist, to see if others are in there with us. By calling out and locating others we discover that our collective sense of direction and leadership can guide us. As we call, the others who can help us "Appear through the mist."

Last night, in the Carolina/Duke game, there were moments in which the mist was getting pretty thick for the Tar Heels. At various moments, though, each Tar Heel appeared through the mist of noise, competition, stress and challenge, and stepped up and contributed...they led. Most notable was point guard Ty Lawson. Especially in the second half, when the Heels were down, and then when Duke made a run to come back, Lawson calmly and quickly took charge...and led.

What is the mist in your life? Are you trying to move through the mist on your own? I can promise you that there are others in the mist. Call out and see who appears.

Thank you, Amelia.

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