Six weeks…..That’s all she was. This was not part of the plan. Or the standard operating procedure. It was fear, anxiety and an entire host of emotions that coalesced into waves that could not be stopped but also could not be indulged. The fever had spiked for no apparent reason. And we, as new parents to a peanut of a little girl, took her to the hospital without delay. After a few attempts to lower her fever were unsuccessful, the doctors asked which one of us was going to stay with her. My wife had to leave. It was written on her face. I had to stay. Not because I wanted to and not for some macho reason that “I can handle anything.” I had to stay because my daughter would not be in a room of strangers as she had a spinal tap. My right hand clasped her little legs and feet. Under her head went my left palm. Gently but deliberately I folded her legs above her head, so the doctor could insert the needle into her back. Never before or since have I been so aware of my every motion and trying to subdue even my heartbeat as much as possible. The fever broke the next day and the spinal tap came back clear.
There are times when we get to choose to be a leader. Other times, leadership is thrust upon us. When we sign up for roles like coach, spouse, parent, teacher, etc., we tend to imagine the circumstances that we’ll face in terms of best case scenarios. Events that we not only can deal with, but that we want to. Life does not let the best case scenarios last for very long. At that point we must choose who we are going to be and the example that we set for those around us. It is our choices that define who we are.
One of my favorite comparisons to make is between Darth Vader and Teddy Roosevelt. They have something crucial in common. Both lost their mother and wife tragically. Roosevelt’s wife and mother actually died less than twenty-four hours apart. One chose to become the evil henchman to a diabolical tyrant. The other chose to become one of our greatest presidents.
Leadership is a choice that we make. Over and over again, we are confronted with circumstances. Our choices define us and the example that we set for others which is the strongest way to lead. Every single one of us is a leader, even if we are only leading ourselves.
It’s in your hands!