A Symbol of Hope

Whether we stumble or parade through life is not of consequence. What is of importance here is that as we move through it – someone is watching. The transparency of our actions makes it even more so. And they look to us – look up to us – to show them the attributes of a leader.

As I have traveled the world, I have eaten everything from radish to rattlesnake and brie to baby camel. It was all good.  That food was prepared in my honor on every stove from a $500,000 Euro affair that was fourteen feet long to the one square foot of brick oven fueled by cow dung. And it was prepared with love. And the people that I shared it with were rich and poor and of every race and religion, from farm or city, able and disabled, men and women and they were all – beautiful. What made them so was that among and within them were leaders.

Leaders are driven with passion from a deep place of core beliefs and values. They are centered and grounded even when life or business gets rather frantic. Calm and assured in their principles, they are a constant. In addition, those leaders stand accountable for themselves, their farm, their company and their people. The born leader does not claim that the tree jumped onto the road when they smash up the family car. Rather, they own the problem and admit to the error following up with a collective solution that works. “I smashed the family car and apologize. What is that I have to do, or we can do together to solve the problem?” Have you ever thought about how your core values and beliefs is an inspiration to other people?

Leaders are always prepared. I have often used the farm kitchen table as the ultimate example of preparedness. Is it not amazing that you can drop in at any farm in any country and they come out with a meal from a seemingly empty cupboard? This is because the farm kitchen is the ultimate example of preparedness. Just as the garden is grown for the winter and the pantry or freezer stocked for that “just in case” moment so must we live our lives at the ready. Have you ever thought about how your preparedness sets you apart?

In all places and at all times, I find true leaders to be generous and kind. They do not have to shout out their name for attention, everyone knows who they are because they respect them. They care enough to remember you and to ask what is important to you. They understand that to truly be a leader, one has to first serve, because when we are servants, we are not greater (or less) than any other. And servitude comes as natural as the sun rising for these men and women, boys and girls. Have you ever thought about how your kindness will change and empower others?

I know the leader of tomorrow will have something else in their kit bag – a way of leading through inspiration. A way of attracting the right people and keeping them for the betterment of their community and their nation through mentorship. Mentorship is not coaching or guiding. It is not providing solutions. It is the drawing out of the best that is within a person so they may find their own solutions. It is “unconditional” in its format and “unconventional” in its approach. To mentor is to find that seed laying latent in the pasture and to provide the right environment for it to grow. It is to empower, enable, liberate and permit. Mentorship is the giving of oneself in servitude solely for the benefit of the other.

All great leaders carry a passion that burns from a core belief that aligns with their values. They are prepared at all times for all things and do not let incidences hinder their leadership. The own their mistakes and with great skill and kindness empower those around them. As they are there for the long haul – they are ok with the idea of mentoring – so that someone else at any point in time can fill their shoes. It is leading without fear of self or threatening of others.

I so strongly believe in these leadership qualities that I spent the last two years studying mentorship worldwide. I was once asked why I would do that. Why would I leave home for weeks on end, living on a shoestring and fighting exhaustion just to study mentorship and leadership? The answer I found was deeply engrained in the humanness of our world and I realized that at all times and in all places, in just being there and living out my core values and beliefs, I was a radiant of hope. And so we all are – at all times and in all places – a reflection of leadership and a symbol of hope.

Presenting my global research on mentorship to Nuffield Canada.

Presenting my global research on mentorship to Nuffield Canada.