What are your thoughts on leadership? Do you think that leadership is reserved for the special few Or can anyone actually be leaders? Ted’s speaker Drew Dudley think so and asks this very revealing question to people all across the country, “how many of you are actually comfortable calling yourself a leader?” Turns out not many. In most audiences that Drew has asked this question to, the majority of people do not put up the hand. Why is that?
Leadership is on a pedestal
Well Drew thinks it’s because we have taken the label of leadership and really put it on this pedestal. We have reserved the title of leadership for people making big changes in the world. This in turn makes us reluctant to call ourselves leaders as we fear coming across as arrogant an cocky. I can see that, self-confessed leaders can usually come across as icky, yes I said icky, but I guess everyone has the right to appreciate their leadership moments and not feel bad for doing so.
Why does this even matter?
Drew says that we spend so much time “celebrating amazing things that hardly anyone can do” that we end up devaluing the things that we can do and don’t take credit for the moments that we are leaders. We celebrate people’s birthday, which is basically just a big kudos for getting older, but we let people walk around without letting them know that they made a difference.
Sometimes, you might not actually know when you are a leader.
Drew shares a sweet story that happened on this last day of university. A fellow student went up to Drew and told him that she remembered the very first time she met him. She went on to explain that the night before she started university four years ago she was in a hotel room with her parents in tears. She was scared and anxious and didn’t think that she was ready for college. Her parents gently told her that she should go to the first day and if at any point she felt that she couldn’t go through with it, they would all go home together.
The following day as she stood in line for registration, she made up her mind, she was going to quit. As she turned to break the news to her parents Drew walked out of the Student Union building wearing the “stupidest hat” and carrying a sign for Shinerama “Students Fighting Cystic Fibrosis” a charity that the student had worked for.
Drew was handing out lollipops and stopped in front on the girl, stared, and gave a lollipop to the stranger standing next to her. He then asked that stranger to give the lollipop to girl, which he did, albeit embarrassed and probably tackling his own first-day nerves. So what was the point of this lollipop exchange? Well, Drew turned to the girls parents and said ”Look at that. First day away from home and she is already taking candy from strangers!” The registration line burst into fits of laughter and in that moment, that girl knew she shouldn’t quit.
Ok, so does this make Drew a leader? To that girl a thousand times yes. Had he not made her feel welcomed that day she would have likely quit university, but it goes well beyond that. That stranger who gave the girl a lollipop ended up marrying her. Drew had a profound change on that girls life and the funny thing is, Drew cant even remember that exchange taking place!
What’s your lollipop moment?
One of the really lingering thoughts that came out of this Ted talk for me, a byproduct thought, was that we never really truly know the impact that our actions can have on others, so as much as we can celebrate the moments that we make a positive impact, we also need to be aware that our words can go both ways.
Has anyone ever told you that you were their lollipop moment? Okay Im betting that they didn’t use the words lollipop, but you get my drift. Drew says that if you don’t think you have been someone’s lollipop moment, chances are, you are just one of those people that haven’t been told yet.