I was on the track team from eighth through twelfth grade. During that time, I learned to trust my coach, team members and myself. Since I was on several relay teams, I had to learn to both lead the baton hand-off to the right teammember at exactly the right time and within the passing area as well as receive the baton as it was passed to me. I also had to trust my teammate to ensure we had a smooth hand-off and did not drop the baton. Did my team or I ever drop the baton?
Yes, we did. It was never a good feeling to get disqualified from a race. Especially, because we were one of the fastest relay teams in our area and often won 1st Place. I eventually learned that winning wasn’t everything. It was more about encouraging the teammate that dropped the baton that day, and not criticizing them for causing us to lose the race. Also recognizing that it could have happened to me that day instead of her and that I should prepare myself for the day that it might. How would I want to be treated if it were me?
Of course, I would want to be treated with compassion and respect, as well as forgiven for my mistake. Not treated as an outcast and shunned by the team. I must say that every team member did not feel this way. They were not as forgiving as some of us. Hence, a few of us had to take on a level of leadership that was normally not expected by teenage peers. But someone had to step up, and I thought it might as well be me. I knew that it wouldn’t make me very popular to side with the underdog, but I was willing to take the risk of losing friendships. This is simply how I was raised. As my mother always said, “They were probably not your friends to begin with”.
Growing up, I’ve always believed in taking risks that would contribute to the greater good. I’ve also gotten myself into a bit of trouble taking a few risks that were unpopular. I always encourage individuality on my teams and encourage them to reach their true potential. You see, some have not had the opportunity to work for or with empowering leaders. Therefore, they find it difficult to take chances or risks in fear of losing their jobs. Well, there’s one thing I know for sure, a leader that leaves a legacy must take risks as well as be ok with being unpopular and even disliked by some.
Here are a few more Must Haves that you can keep in mind and apply on your journey to becoming a leader that leaves legacies.
- #5 Never think of yourself as being better than others. It is never your title that defines you, it is what’s in your heart. Many people judge others based on who “they” think they are, and not by what is truly in their hearts. No man can know what’s in another man’s heart unless he allows him to reveal it without judgment.
- #6 After a person has wronged you, give them a chance to make things right. You could find out that there was a legitimate reason for his or her actions, or not. In any case, the release is really for you but helps them too. Don’t think you have to be best friends afterward, but moving forward operate in what Stephen Covey calls “smart trust”.
- #7 Make sure that your hand-offs are solid. A legacy leaving leader will always package his or her solution and vision in way that it will continue to evolve. If this isn’t done, their legacy will not be realized.
- #8 Leaders should try to stay within their passing area. Meaning, they should not interfere with the vision of their boss or of the company, but should ensure theirs aligns with them. This helps ensure there is a trusting relationship between the leader and his superior.
- #9 Always find a way to consider those that are overlooked or considered outcasts. They can sometimes be the greatest champions of your vision.