You never realize how important some moments are, until you look back and see the impact they had over a lifetime. Game changing leaders see the future and ask themselves, how can I leverage my influence now, to positively impact someone else’s life later? Coincidentally, that’s the central question I’ve been asking myself as a father.
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a banquet for an organization that I support, Next Generation Men. What was remarkable about this evening was hearing the stories of young men as they talked about their lives being transformed by their experience in the program. Even the keynote speaker, a young black man who by all accounts could have easily been written off by society as another statistic, shared his story of those who’d impacted his life simply by taking the time to believe in him and give him an opportunity to learn to believe in himself.
That’s what I believe game changing leadership is all about, leveraging your influence for the sake of someone else so much that it changes the direction of their life. Each of these young men had a story to share about how someone, somewhere within the program had done that for them. It got me thinking about my own mission to grow as a game changing husband, father, friend, leader, you name it. So, it was quite rewarding when I also got to bump into several former students and teachers I’d impacted over the years. Many of them shared their current leadership dilemmas and a few asked for advice. One shared that he’d recently used what he’d learned about leadership from me in an interview. One student, Amadou, a sophomore in high school came to find me and express his gratitude for a previous program I’d led and asked if we were planning on doing it again.
By the time I’d left the banquet, I called my wife wondering…should I be doing more? Am I missing out on more opportunities to impact lives? Over the past year as I’ve settled into a new role professionally, added a third daughter to our family, brought and moved into a new home, lost a childhood friend, there have been so many changes that I proactively slowed down my pace of participation in leadership development work. I stepped down from a few boards (though I remained active with one- NGM), and I slowed my own work with my own initiative, Families for Education, in order to focus on fewer things well. Just last week I said no to leading my daughter’s PTO (one day soon…).
Right now, the name of the game for me is prioritization. Sure I’m missing out on opportunities to impact more lives right now. But, when I look at the shifts I’ve made with my time and talents, I think it’s the right move for the future. Besides, look at the lives I’m impacting right now: Riley, Olivia, and London. My first leadership priority is leading myself well. Without that, there’s no reservoir from which to fill others cups. Afterwards, it’s all about leading my family, then others.
You know what I’ve loved the most about pulling back a bit? For the first time as parents, we instituted family dinner nights where we actually sit at the table and eat 2-3 weeknights and on weekends for dinner. We have a family movie night on Fridays, complete with pizza and popcorn. Most Saturdays (though not lately within the past month), but most have been all day lounging Saturdays at home with the family. We started attending a new church last year and we’ve gotten involved in a weekly small group, and our girls love their experience. On top of all that, I have a dedicated weekly time with just me and my girls where I take them to gymnastics and ballet. None of these things would have been possible a year ago, I was simply too busy. But now, I know we’re changing the game for our children with the sweat equity of parenting.
I was fortunate enough to attend leadercast last week and when I came home I was so excited to tell my wife about how re-energized I’d become about my personal vision of impacting others through leadership development. I’m realizing now that this past year has given me a huge opportunity to really step back and hone my own leadership philosophy, and at the same time focus on building the foundation for our family that matters.
This reflection brought to you by moments that matter like these this past Wednesday night…being there for my daughters dress rehearsal before their recital. Note- they just pulled London into the picture!