My daughter Jamie ran track her first few years of high school. On one occasion, she had a track meet at a nearby school. At most track meets, I generally stood
against the fence around the track waiting for my daughter’s race. This day would be no different. I stood by the fence ready to watch the next race.
time came for the 100-meter, varsity boys’ race. The guys who ran this race were generally very fast. The runners got in
their respective lanes. The starter raised his hand with the pistol in
the air. "On your mark, get set, go!" One young man apparently jumped
too soon. As soon as the gun fired, the starter then quickly fired
again — the signal for a false start. When that happens, all of the
runners are supposed to stop and go back to their starting positions.
of them did return — except for one young runner in a maroon uniform. He
continued running. I cringed with embarrassment for him. I heard someone
say, "Oh no, he’s still running! How embarrassing!" He ran by himself
the entire race, not realizing that he was the only one running.
Finally he raised his arms as he crossed the finish line, thinking that
he had won the race. He then turned around only to realize that no one
else had been running with him. I can’t imagine how he must have felt. The stands were full
of people. About fourteen or fifteen schools were present at the meet that day. Many people watched this kid run the race by himself.
Has this ever been you? Do you, as a leader, ever feel like you are alone in your
race? Life is a lifelong marathon. The
goal is not speed but endurance. We just want to finish and finish strong. Yet, it
is awfully difficult to do this by yourself.
Leadership can be a very lonely role. Yet, sometimes, the issue may be more than loneliness. We may have jumped the gun and so we find ourselves running — alone. While leadership involves the individual and his or her commitments, values, and passions, it is more than a task to be done alone. Leadership requires others. Leading is more than being aware of where others are in the process. It could be that you have jumped the gun, not realizing that others are not with you.
Leadership is more than telling people which way to go. It is more than announcing, persuading, or even preaching to them. Leadership involves working with people and bringing them along. Leadership is influencing people for something good, honorable, and worthy.
As leaders, we want to finish and finish strong. We lead because we believe the cause is great and the goal is worthy. However, we were never meant to run by ourselves. Life is
tough — at times leadership is extremely tough. How encouraging it is to know
that you are not running alone.
And so …
1. Leadership is not about being a "Lone Ranger." To lead is not to run the race by yourself while others watch.
2. Leadership is about working with people to move toward something that is good, honorable, and worthy.
What do you think? Who are some of the best leaders you have known? What made them good leaders?
(Be sure to read the two excellent articles by Michael Hyatt, "Leadership 2.0" and "Eight Things Leaders Can Learn from Symphony Conductors.")