Leading Blog


Things You Can Do to Build Their Future

Build Their Future

THIS last summer, my son Mark attended a youth leadership conference for the first time. I attended the opening session with him in a room of about 300 kids that all seemed to know each other. Mark is a very personable and approachable young man but as a parent I naturally thought, “How is he going to get up and running in a group this size? He doesn’t know anyone.”

But the opening session wasn’t over for 30-seconds when a young man walked up and said, “I’m Hunter. Would you like to hang out with us?” And they were off and never looked back.

As I walked away, I thought that this is the kind of leadership that makes a difference in people’s lives. It’s leading from where you are, without title and without fanfare. Just doing the right thing.

It’s the little things like this that we teach our kids that enrich their lives and those of others. Leadership begins in the home. It’s where we have the greatest impact on the future. Here’s a few things we can do:

We can help them to look further out. Help them see the long-term effects of the decisions they make today. Define a future and help them to line up the decisions needed to get there. It will help them to gain a perspective on life.

We can take the time to talk about their experiences. Help them to see them in the most constructive way possible.

While some rules are important, principles will last them a lifetime. Rules are easy to churn out. Principles take time to teach and integrate into a person’s life.

We can teach them that connection with others matters and that’s not done behind a screen. People are experienced when you can look into their eyes. Life is experienced when you can see what is going on around you—both the sights and sounds. One of the greatest gifts you can give someone is your full attention.

We can give them responsibility. Help them to value contribution over consumption. If not, we can be guilty of what President George W. Bush called “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” He added, “No child in America should be segregated by low expectations.” Help them raise the bar in their life and thereby help others to discover the possibilities in theirs.

And the most important thing we can do is to set an example of the kind of people we want them to become.

Remember we are training future leaders not just raising kids. It’s an investment.

I later found out it was Mark Sanborn’s son that came up to my son that day. Not surprising. So I’ll leave you with a principle from Sanborn’s book, You Don’t Need a Title to Be a Leader:

We can’t give to others without being affected positively ourselves. And this is the secret of giving: When we make the world better for others, you make the world better for yourself.

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Albert Lasker Advice Leadership Begins At Home

Posted by Michael McKinney at 01:27 PM
| Comments (0) | This post is about Leadership Development



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