Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

A Lesson In (Servant) Leadership May 8, 2013

I’ll be honest. I don’t really care for nights when my mom works late. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the one-on-one time with dad (especially the extra cuddles and hugs he sneaks in when no one else is around). But my heart is bursting with happiness when my family is all together. I mean it. I can literally feel my little doggie heart beating out of my chest those first few moments my family is together after they have been at that place called work all day.

So you can imagine my disappointment on days like today when I only get a few precious moments with my whole family together before bedtime. It’s heartbreaking for me to wait at home alone all day and only have this small amount of time when them. Not only that, but my mom’s face was lit up with excitement when she got home, and it had nothing to do with being happy to see me. Don’t they realize how long a day is in doggie time, my mind asked. I was surprised with the answer my heart gave to my selfish mind: it’s not all about you.Leadership Is...

Of course it isn’t. I don’t usually get so carried away like this. I don’t dig into the realm of negativity. No sir. I find and share joy from the ground up. Call it coincidence, karma, or whatever you believe, but it was a blessing to talk myself back from the negativity bridge tonight. Instead of dwelling on how small our time together was, I focused on making the moments count. I stopped thinking about myself, and I’m so glad I did.

With an open mind and heart I took in every detail about where my mom had spent that time away from me tonight. As it turned out, she truly was where she needed to be. While I don’t completely understand the kind of program she was at, I was able to gather that it was a commencement ceremony of some kind that recognized some of the leaders in our local community.

Leadership gets defined so many ways by so many different people, but mom said the theme that set this conversation apart was an emphasis on servant leadership. Leading by example, stepping up to the plate when no one else will, and (yes) sometimes not just taking the road less travelled, but paving it for others were among the highlights of the conversations about leadership. Above all, servant leadership is putting others before oneself and doing something because it’s the right thing to do regardless of potential financial, political or emotional gain.

Tonight I turned off my wishes to play fetch and steal all the attention in the room and let my mom share some pretty valuable information with my dad. She was happy and enthusiastic and I could tell she is passionate about everything she heard tonight.

Taking the moment to dwell on that instead of on my disappointment was the best decision I made today. After all, the program tonight was referred to as commencement. That sure is a powerful word. Rather than refer to it as a graduation (which is more synonymous with the end of an educational journey), mom made it very clear as she told her story the program was purposely referred to as a commencement. A beginning.

Leadership doesn’t stop when you walk across the stage – it begins. I suppose in my own little way I successfully was a servant leader in my home tonight, even though my people wouldn’t have noticed it. That is kind of the point sometimes, isn’t it? It wasn’t easy, as I do sincerely look forward to the nights when my whole family is together. But I’ll be honest. I have a new aspiration in life to be a better servant leader, and the first step on that journey is understanding it’s not all about me.