Here are two quotes about leadership:
“A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.” - Lao Tzu
“Lead me, follow me, or get out of my way.” - General George Patton
Those are two very different pictures of leadership and truly, there are many many more. Many quotes and models and formulas for leadership have to do with knowing yourself, having a vision, and then sticking to it. This model is focused on the self. One can be very successful using this model of leadership. Other models are more focused on others – what do they need? What is the next right move? How can I help?
I find it helpful to think about your children and ask a few questions. What do you really want for them? Success? Riches? Fame? Or is it something more basic, like happiness, health and connection?
This is a good question to ask when considering what sort of leadership models you want impress on your children. Do you want the ego-centric CEO? Do you want the wheeling-dealing politician? Do you want the vain celebrity? Do you want the self-congratulatory mogul?
Or do you want the relief worker whose quiet efforts saved hundreds of lives? Do you want the micro-loan banker who helps the poor start small businesses? Do you want the athlete who gives everything over to her God? Do you want the teacher who takes a stand on classroom culture and becomes a model for the nation?
There are many models out there for leadership – and it is up to us, the parents, teachers, and healers to find them, talk about them, and then hold them up in front of our children. Our children who will be the leaders of the future.
There is a very old story – a creation story – of the Iroquois Nation called “The Great Peacemaker” that speaks to leadership. In this video, I talk about how I think this model is the exact right model to hold as we enter into the most contentious season of United States politics. We in the US are about to choose our new leader and the experience thus far has been riddled with polarity, opposition, name-calling, and even threats. Not the picture of leadership that I want for my children.
In this video, I introduce the story and give it some context:
Note: This video is for parents only as it talks about current politics in the US.
Here is the Sparkle Stories version of “The Great Peacemaker” story called “Tadodaho and the Great White Pine.”
So what leaders do I want for my children? I want passionate men and women who step forward to do the next right thing, who can weep with compassion, smile with kindness, take responsibility for their shortcomings and admit mistakes - but allow those learned lessons to inform their mission. I want my boys to know of people who listen, who forgive, who grieve as well as people who bravely stand up and say, “Yes, I will speak for you, I will work for you, I will serve you with all that I have.”
About the Author
David Sewell McCann
David Sewell McCann fell in love with spinning stories in first grade – the day a storyteller came to his class and captured his mind and imagination. He has been engaged in storytelling all of his adult life through painting, film-making, teaching and performing. Out of his experience as a Waldorf elementary class teacher and parent, he has developed a four step method of intuitive storytelling, which he now shares through workshops and through this website.