Hello! For those of you who do not know me, my name is Sarah. I am married to an incredible man named Matt. We have three busy, beautiful daughters and two mini Schnoodles. I am a middle child and that has shaped me into who I am today. Being a middle child taught me to take care of those around me, and to take care of myself. It shaped my character, and I am grateful for that.
Everyday leadership. Start where you are.
I have been inspired to write about leadership. You might ask yourself, "What can I lead? Or "where can I lead?" And that question is easy, start right where you are.
We have an incredible amount of influence. It's true. Whether you are aware of it or not, you have influence in your day to day life, the question is, "How are you using it?" Whether you are a mother, or a bachelor, or a senior, or anyone else in between, I challenge you to identify how you have influence and how you can better apply it.
I have a true story for you. I once took care of a remarkable woman who had an influence on me and she did not even realize it. She was a natural leader. Annelise was really discouraged one day, she was bed-ridden and no longer able to move on her own. Annelise required an incredible amount of help day to day, from washing to feeding and so on. This woman had led a remarkable life. She had traveled the world and served poor children. She had also been a working professional most of her life before her physical condition deteriorated.
When I would walk into her room, her eyes would light up with her beautiful smile and she would always ask, "How are you today Sarah?" with genuine interest.
Let's pause there for a moment. We have all known people like that, people who really see us and make us feel warm and valued. That feeling of being noticed and known, you never forget. It's such a small gesture when you stop and think about it. Its take a few intentional seconds of your time for you to genuinely smile and see someone and ask them how they are, really.
Back to Annelise, before I would leave the room each time, she would always encourage me with kinds words, or an encouraging Bible verse, or a meaningful story. She took the time to ask me about my life, wanting to know if I was doing alright. Every time I left her room, I was encouraged and uplifted.
As her physical condition was declining, she was quite discouraged one day, I had not seen her like this before. She was not dying yet but she was nearing the end of her journey here on earth. She asked me with sadness and resolution, "What good am I? What good do I?" I guess it is natural to question yourself when life becomes so challenging and limited. But none the less, I was shocked. "What good are you?" I echoed in surprise. I proceeded to let her know each and every way I could recall how she had encouraged me, challenged me, and touched my life in a meaningful way. I have driven home from work with tears in my eyes from this incredible woman, bed-bound yet sharing love and encouragement and her faith. I also told her, "Annelise, you have an incredible impact on those around you. You speak to more people in a day than most people your age do in a week." Annelise had a sharp mind but needed a lot of physical care, so daily she had a lot of workers in her room, and she was well-loved. I told her, "you have so much influence right now. It's maybe not how you expected to impact others, but you do." I meant every word, I spoke with conviction and sincerity. Annelise looked at me, and something changed in her eyes as she softened and said, "Yes. I guess that's true. I just never thought of it like that."
Annelise was a true everyday leader. She led from her heart even when she could not get out of bed. She valued people and always saw the best in them; she took the time to build them up, encourage them, and bless them. She left a legacy behind. She inspired me and modeled a life that I want to live out.
Think about your life. Who do you see day to day? Maybe it's your children. You have the influence to build leadership qualities in them. Maybe it's coworkers, or family members. Maybe it's your neighbors or community where you volunteer. No matter where you are, you can be a leader.
How can you add value to those around you?
I have a challenge for you. The next time you see something great in someone, tell them. Do not just think it, that helps no one. Say it out loud, a genuine compliment has the power to change those around us. Let's lift each other up and build each other up. Let's bring out the best in each other, and pay it forward.