Between two leadership conferences, September was definetly leadership month. Although September has passed us, I want to share with you some of the things that I learned during the month. If you think that this doesn’t pertain to you, or you think the whole concept is kind of lame, and too full of jargon, I want to challenge you to read on before just moving on to a different website. That’s because not only does everyone have the potiental to be a leader, but in one way or another, everyone is one, whether you realize it or not. Being a leader simply involves guiding, directing, or influencing others. That’s it, pretty simple. Leading can not only mean acting as WM of your Lodge, but it can also be encouraging your kids to make good choices. Naturally, this can have a positive or negative connotation, while “leadership” is usually seen positively, “ringleader” is not so much. Usually, this is something that most people do naturally, in one way or another, whether you realize it or not.
The Nebraska Triennual Masonic Youth Leadership Conference
I spoke at length about what everyone got to do at MYLC this year. If you missed that, you can check it out here. The keynote speaker, Josh Shipp, was beyond awesome. He had a ton of amazing things to say, and I’m afraid the meager notes I took will not allow me to do him justice. He made two points that really stuck with me, that I want to go over briefly.
Don’t be average. When it comes to things like leadership, this seems fairly self explainatory. However, it can also be the most difficult to actually accomplish. When we deviate from average, either above, or below, people tend to take notice. As I’ve said before, your leadership can be both a positive and a negative thing. If you’re at work and you go above and beyond whats needed, and you encourage others to do so, that’s awesome. The opposite, not so much. Being outside the norm almost always puts you in a position for potential leadership. The more you strive to be above (or below) average, the more likely people around you will notice, and if they like what they see, are likely to follow you. Don’t be afraid to be different or weird, that is an advantage you can use when it comes to influencing others.
Don’t be afraid to be human. Actually, the exact quote from Josh is, “Your imperfections make you human. Your humanity makes you influential.” If you have car trouble and are late to a meeting, or you fumble the powerpoint, you don’t need to draw attention to it. These actions can actually cause people to be more likely to follow your lead, because it makes them realize that you aren’t a person who is in a completely unobtainable position, you are someone who is just like them.
As I said in my MYLC post, if you ever get a chance to hear Josh Shipp talk, do it. The guy is amazing. You can find out more, including free videos at www.joshshipp.com
The Grand Lodge of Nebraska’s First Annual Leadership Conference
During the GL Leadership conference, a man named Hal came and spoke with us about simple things that we can do everyday to become leaders. He told us that he keeps this list in his bedside table, and looks at it every night. All of these pertain to Masonry, but more than that, many of them can also be accomplished at work, or at home.
1. Always prepare for a meeting, whether or not you are leading the meeting.
2. Demonstrate that you listened, and heard what was said. Usually through taking notes and asking questions.
3. Share leadership opportunities with those around you. Let someone else take the stage.
4. Say thank you for those who helped you along the way.
5.Give credit to others for their contribution to your success. If you’re walking along and you see a turtle up on a fencepost, you know that he didn’t get there on his own.
6. Don’t be in a hurry.
7. Two can accomplish more than one.
8. To be appreciated as a helper, set the example.
9. Be a good citizen.
10. Give thanks spiritually.
All seems pretty basic right? That seems to be the trick that the majority of leadership conferences seem to skip over. It really is that simple. If you have ever read, or seen the play All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, by Robert Fulgrum, you may remember the Kindergarten Creed. If not, it’s below. Check out the similarities between the creed and what Hal had to say.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.
Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup- the roots go down and the plant goes up, and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.
Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup, they all die. So do we.
And remember the Dick and Jane books, and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all, LOOK.
Being a leader is really about doing all those things that you already do, and some of the things you don’t do, but you know that you should. It doesn’t seem like it really should be that simple, but it really is.