Friday, April 23, 2010


“Welcome to basic training. Look to the soldiers at your left and right. From this moment on everyone in this room is family. Your battles are my battles. Your enemies are my enemies. Together we will stand shoulder to shoulder and annihilate our foes with righteous slaughter.” The first day of basic training with Drill Sergeant Heekin

By being a leader you form a permanent bond with the people that you mentor. Whether it is done consciously or not, the influence you exert on each and every follower’s life will echo into everything thing they do and everyone they meet. In my experience it is the single most significant exchange that can be undergone by a human being and not one to be taken lightly.

Every teacher I have studied from, be it the kind hearted April Monegan to the indomitable Drill Sergeant Heekin, helped shape who I was when they were a part of my life. Because their influences were part of how I saw the world, their lessons shaped who I am today and who I will become in the future.

Think about the people you have influenced during your life time. For good or ill, your family, friends, and co-workers have all been influenced by your presence in their lives. The world has changed by your everyday influence. Each person on the planet does this in ways both overt and subtle whether they realize it or not. Leadership comes into play when you make this constant influence and conscious and deliberate action.

Most of the time you will not be able to choose with whom you form this permanent bond. Life is random and unfair, and will thrust that responsibility onto your shoulders when you least expect it. Ultimately it is the follower’s choice if you meet their standards for leadership, and will most likely not have a flashing neon sign with them to notify you of this life changing decision. Being in authority position such as teacher or squad leader is a dead giveaway that eventually you will influence a person’s life to a profound degree that it will forever change them into something greater. Other times it will be the random act of kindness or cruelty that you commit without a second thought to the consequences. You will never know.

Consider this, that every interaction you have with another human being has the chance of profoundly influencing their life. The unexpected complement you give the lady who bags your groceries could be the one that gives her the small boost she needed to go out and get a better job, or it might set into motion a chain of disastrous unintended consequences. For someone like me who is prone to anxiety, trying to second guess every one of my actions and the potential consequences would only result in adding to my already impressive collection of grey hair. The best policy I have found is to not sweet the small stuff and do the best you can with what life throws at you.

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