Originally published on April 23, 2018
First a quote; “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade we do not expect to sit.” —Nelson Henderson
My mother (who also raised 6 children) worked in an assisted living facility as a dishwasher for almost 25 years. She is well remembered at that facility, not for the dishes she cleaned, but for the angel food cakes she baked for each resident on their birthdays… for the love she had for each resident, and for the way she decorated the dining room bulletin board with quotes and messages of family, hope, love and inspiration. None of those “extra things” were on her “dish washer job description”… they were her contributions as a servant leader because she aspired to make a difference in the lives of others.
What I remember most from that chapter of her life is what she did when she retired. She bought a tree sapling to have planted outside the center’s dining room window for future residents to enjoy, not just for months or years, but quite possibly for decades to come. She hoped it would provide future residents with beauty to see, and shade to enjoy, on hot Iowa summer afternoons.
By definition, leadership is more than just leading people through the challenges of the present day, it also about helping others create a more positive future. Leadership is proactive, planting seeds today for a brighter future tomorrow, even though we may not personally be around to enjoy the harvest or the shade. True leadership is not selfish… it is about others… and it is about a better future.
Using saplings as a metaphor, what “trees” will you plant this week, this month, or this year? How will your team, department, function or organization be better in the future because of the actions you and your team took today?
What will your leadership legacy be? Take some time, give it some thought and look for places that could use really nice shade trees someday.
Be your best self this week!
Have a great week!!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”