It takes a village to raise a leader. You have likely heard a similar and more common version of this phrase, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Well, it applies to leadership too. In my world specifically.
My story is unique. I was born, raised, educated, built a career, and am currently raising a family in my hometown of Acworth, Georgia. It is a rarity these days. Not too many people get this opportunity, one that I do not take for granted.
Last Thursday was a big day. The day started off as most do. I got to work early, settled in, and developed a game plan for the day. In the world of public service, that plan rarely goes the way I intended!
Later that evening was our regular meeting of the Mayor and Board of Aldermen (our City Council). There was an important item on the agenda. After serving more than twenty-one years in the field of Parks and Recreation, the Mayor and Board had the confidence to choose me as their next City Manager. I was honored and humbled.
I am a person who prefers to be prepared. Especially when it comes to public speaking. I do not have to be scripted per se, but I need to have a guide to follow. Some bullets at a minimum.
As most days typically do, this one moved faster than the pace at which I could accomplish my planned tasks. It was about forty-five minutes before the council meeting and I had not yet scripted anything to say that evening. My family, friends, and co-workers would be there. People that meant the world to me. I wanted to be able to perfectly verbalize every emotion I felt, but had nothing scripted to say. Here are the notes I quickly jotted down before going into the meeting.
Note the last thing I wrote, “It takes a village to raise a leader.” This could not be truer of my story. Today, I want to share with you four ways the village that raised me has impacted my life.
People Invested In Me
I am blessed to have been raised by two of the best people you will ever meet, my mom and dad. As great as an influence as they were, it took more than just their investment to get me where I was at that moment. As I scanned the room from the dais (elevated platform) that evening, I saw so many people who had poured into my life. Each were investors in my world.
They Believed In Me
One of the defining marks in the life of a leader is to believe in someone more than they believe in themselves. As word started to spread of my upcoming appointment, I cannot even begin to tell you the amount of texts, direct messages, social media posts, and phone calls I received. Every single one of them were encouraging and uplifting. I was blown away by the confidence each person had in me. It far exceeded the confidence I can have in myself. They have always believed in me more than I believed in myself.
The Village Will Not Let Me Fail
Here is something else each of those people did for me. They made it crystal clear through their heartfelt messages, I had a village of supporters around me. They will not let me fail. People from all over our great community with all different types of worldly experiences offered any support they could give.
We Are Better Together
Groups have made a big impact on my life. Two were there that evening. My Tuesday leadership lunch group and my Wednesday morning bible study. These are groups that I have been a part of for several years that have played a big role in my personal and professional growth. We have read books together, studied videos together, shared experiences together, and gained wisdom from each other. Fear and anxiety are minimized when we maximize our time together with those who make us better.
I started writing this leadership blog in January for leaders in local communities such as educators, coaches, public servants, elected officials, small business owners, pastors, and volunteers. These groups of people were game changers in my life. They were my village.
Here is the deal. While it was a packed house that special evening, it was only a small fraction of those who have poured into my life. Villages are typically considered small communities with few people, the one that raised me was overpopulated.
The Leadership and Main definition of community leadership is “the ability and willingness to better others and the world you live in.” In my journey, I am most grateful for one single word in that definition, willingness. There were so many leaders that have intersected my life, but it was those that were willing who made the greatest impact.
A good friend of mine, Marlon Longacre recently reminded me of a saying from an unknown source, “When you see a turtle on top of a fence post, chances are he did not get there on his own.” That is me, a turtle on a fence post. I am eternally grateful for every person in my village that put me on that post, kept me on the post, and picked me back up if I fell off.
Ordinary to Extraordinary Intersection
As you go about your week, reflect on three things. One, who made up your village? Who were those people that invested in you, believed in you, and would not let you fail? Two, are you a villager that does the same for someone else? Three, what groups are you in? Start one or find one today. It can be as simple as picking a leadership book, reading a chapter a week, and discussing it.