Building the Pipeline of Future Leaders Starts At Home
Posted on Dec 13, 2017
"A boat is safe in the harbour. But this is not the purpose of a boat” -Paulo Coelho"
If we really want our children to become great and empathic leaders, we the parents and adults of their lives need to be the example for them to emulate. It means giving them exposure to great leadership qualities long before they ever get to a work environment. Isn't our primary role as parents to be the kind of adults we want our children to be? Teach our kids how to live successfully without us and show them by how we live our lives?
The future belongs to our children and the best gift we can give them is for us to simply yet profoundly BE what we want them to be. Not perfect, but honest and forthcoming, considerate and calm, resilient and striving. Little people are like sponges as they observe our every move. I wish I could say my child only witnessed the best of me. I am admittedly a work in progress and I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. What I do know however, is that despite my downfalls and weaknesses, she also witnessed me clean up my own messes, take action to improve and be truthful about my own struggles and what I'm doing about it. It is rarely what we say but more importantly how we take care of ourselves that impacts our children most. How we lead our lives, personally and professionally matters.
Teaching our children to problem solve and make decisions by demonstrating this in our own life is like the most powerful book on leadership our kids could ever read.
I once read a blog post from James Altucher who said because he had a privileged life growing up and ‘suburban lucky’, it ruined him and made him complacent. Suburban lucky is just another term for spoiled rotten. And so, he admires people like Jewel who suffered as a young girl and was a homeless singing for pennies on the streets. She had ‘nothing to lose’ and everything to gain - so taking some bold steps was far, far better than where she was. Jewel had to fight for her basic needs of food, shelter and clean water while the rest of us took it for granted along with a whole lot more. You could say that out of desperation, people like Jewel perhaps take greater and bolder steps than the irritable and discontent yet comfortable middle-class kids. What James like many others admire in people like Jewel is the courage and enormous desire to do something and step up to the plate. It isn't necessarily the best or most talented that achieve. It's the ones with the most tenacity. The ones that want it bad enough. The biggest takeaway for parents is we need to nourish our kids yet keep them hungry enough to keep that flame lit.
The best advice that was ever given to me that I will never forget:
Give our children enough that they can do something with it, but not too much that they end up doing nothing.
But let me ask you this: aren't parents suburban lucky too? Not just the kids? Perhaps we're all just a little too comfortable ourselves that we give up aiming higher. Perhaps our children have seen us become chronic, or lazy, or just complacent. Have they witnessed their parents giving up? Are parents tolerating things rather than overcoming them? Are we putting in time, maybe even avoiding things? Maybe suburban lucky is not such a lucky place to be. Perhaps the middle class reach a point in Maslow's Heirarchy and likely somewhere in the middle of that pyramid, where they run the risk of squandering and in futility, they stop growing, believing that full self-realization may not be in the cards for them - and well, that's okay as long as I have my house and television. So maybe our dreams do need modifying, our actions need fine tuning, and our goals need re-addressing. Beause even when our kids are young adults, we parents still need to be the shining example. I want my daughter to know and see that I don't stop growing and thriving because I've reached some mediorcre point of success or because society tells me I might be too old. I want her to SEE that I can do anything I want at any stage in my life, because life is filled with endless opportunity if we allow ourselves to seize. I want her to SEE me continuing to grow as a decent and joyful human being doing the right thing and making good choices.
We all want our children to become masters of their lives don't we? We want them to be good leaders in what they do and in their community. We want them to be emotionally strong and to be kind, disciplined and loving. We want our children to be courageous and follow their hearts and find their happiness. We want them to do good in the world. We want them to find true and lasting love. This is what most parents hope for their kids - isn't it? This is what the world hopes and needs in our future leaders. And we can do something about it right now. We can mold and nurture that pipeline and give our future leaders something to live up to. Monkey see. Monkey do.
It starts with us. The seeds of leadership are planted at home.