YOU ARE A LEADER
We are all leaders...
Years ago I witnessed proof of that statement in one simple action. And I have never forgotten the power of it.
On a cross country bus an elderly woman dropped her over-loaded cardboard box suitcase; and it split open. As myriad personal items spilled out into the aisle, embarrassment from staring passengers added to her frustration and anxiety. The couple in the seat behind her rolled their eyes and snickered. Two adolescent boys whispering to each other giggled...
Suddenly, a teen-age girl sitting near the back slipped quietly up the aisle, picked up the bulging box, gave the woman a warm smile, and without a word began retrieving the articles around her feet.
At once, the stares were replaced by smiles. Nearby passengers began picking up things, others offering helpful suggestions... One man produced a piece of heavy twine from his pocket, and stood by to tie up the box when re-packed.
What a leader! That young girl's action led separated, unfeeling strangers into a friendly, helpful group.
Because of the inherent human tendency to do what others do, right or wrong, we are all leaders, as well as followers. This responsibility to others in inescapable. Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you do influences the lives of those around you. Every individual action makes it's contribution to the welfare, or unhappiness, of others. And no matter what you may say, conduct has the loudest tongue. Spoken words sound, but actions are better heard.
Another example. A middle aged couple arrived early for the local talent program in a small town school gymnasium, but already all the temporary folding chairs were occupied. Not up to standing, they were about to leave, when a young mother sitting on the back row with her three children took the youngest on her lap, moved the other two onto that seat, and offered the couple their seats. A few minutes later, a man who had watched from the end of the row, got up and offered his seat to somebody's grandfather, arriving late. About half way through the program an elderly couple motioned to another older couple standing at the back, and whispered, "Now we'll stand while you sit."
Similar seat changing continued throughout the program. And when that hour of local entertainment ended the audience seemed like one big happy family.
Kindness is contagious; courtesy is contagious. So are good manners-- and bad. Every individual exerts some influence, either for good or evil, upon those around them. And sometimes one seemingly insignificant action can be more influential than a sermon. Yet, according to psychologists most of us stifle enough good impulses during the course of a day to change the trend of our lives.
Why? Why do we block our good intentions. The professionals say that it is fear-- fear of making a mistake, of looking conspicuous, of being rebuffed... But doing nothing can be the greatest mistake.
Once a valedictorian suffering from stage fright revealed her anxiety to the handsome guest speaker on the platform beside her. He surprised her by saying that he was nervous too-- and went on to tell her that most speakers are. Also that many are timid and self conscious about talking to strangers. "But," he added, "I'll tell you a secret. If you just spend the first minute you are with a stranger, trying to help him feel comfortable, you'll never suffer from self-consciousness again."
The young man who gave that advice, later became the leader of the greatest country in the world-- the only U. S. president ever elected for a fourth term.
Help others and you help yourself. Of course, there will be times when you won't know what to say, but you can always smile. Smile at someone who needs help and whatever his problem, you have helped him. With millions of people and millions of problems in the world, what you can do may not seem like much. On the other hand, one action by one person often has far reaching effects.
Never let yourself be persuaded that any one great leader is necessary to the success or triumph of a nation-- or of any venture. Leadership is not of any one man; it is of myriads of men-- and women.
Whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you do... you are a leader.