“I’m a grown ass man!!”

That’s what I yelled at some counselors while in my first leadership position as a unit leader at Mont Lawn Camp (a summer camp). I had passed on some tasks that I wanted them to do and they ignored my request. I waited 10 minutes to see if they would begin to do what I asked, then I blurted that statement out loud. I embarrassed them and myself.

All I wanted them to do is help get ready for our camp’s version of carnival but they didn’t think twice to ignore what I asked from them.

I learned two BIG leadership lessons that summer from this situation!

1) Unless you connect with people they won’t really hear or want to listen to you.

I am naturally introverted and having that leadership position stretched me out of my shell more than any other experience that I’ve had since. And in my stretching and speaking out, I found my first obstacle – someone not listening to what I am saying. My first response? Yell! I guess people don’t like being yelled at…especially when you haven’t made an effort to invest into knowing them.

2) It doesn’t matter if you know what to do as a leader from attending seminars or reading books…if what you learn isn’t disciplined into your character you will never be what you know!

I knew the leadership thing to do was to probably pull them to the side and speak calmly about the situation but I couldn’t. I felt disrespected and needed to let them know in front of everyone! Lesson learned. I did however, apologize to them for my actions and that in itself was a leadership action. After we all shared what our feeling were about the situation, we were on better grounds. One difference between understanding leadership and doing it is the emotions that are present in a “right now” situation. If leadership qualities aren’t already part of your character, trust me you will act according to your old habits.

If being a leader is what you want to become, then learn to discipline yourself to be what you know is the best way of acting. And understand that on that journey of discipline, you should be courageous enough to take the risk of being yourself and be vulnerable enough to apologize if your action don’t align with the right way of being a leader.




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