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Leaders Have A Wonderful Life

Leaders Have A Wonderful Life

Leadership Spokane is committed to the truism that leaders always learn. As we break for the holidays, I thought a quick leadership lesson from my favorite holiday movie may be appropriate. Frank Capra’s classic It’s A Wonderful Life has always struck a chord for many reasons. First, I have always appreciated the actor Jimmy Stewart, former Air Force veteran, and all around genuinely good citizen. Second, the story is very compelling because it clearly illustrates as we go about our day to day struggles to never lose sight of how precious life is and how important our relationships are. In the story, Clarence the Angel reminds us all: “No person is a failure who has friends.” Often times, we forget this adage with the stresses of life and it takes a health crisis or other significant event to refocus us on our priorities. Watching It’s A Wonderful Life every year always centers me on the power of life and the power of community.
Joining Leadership Spokane three years ago, I was often reminded of the movie as I met our 1,200 extraordinary Leadership alumni. I wondered aloud how this community would be if we didn’t have our program and we didn’t have our alumni who have given so much back. I do think Spokane has a wonderful life and it is our alumni who part of that celebration!
But the real leadership lesson of this holiday classic is one my core guiding leadership principles…to be like Clarence and help George. In other words, as servant leaders, our job is to show the richness in others’ lives helping them to reach heights they never anticipated. Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli says it best: “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him or her their own.” Well said, well said indeed. A leader’s sole purpose is to build a team and that team becomes stronger when leaders highlight their follower’s strengths in a manner that followers believe in themselves and the confidence builds for ultimate success.
Serving in the military, I was privileged to meet a multitude of Airmen hailing from a plethora of specialties. Every time I met an Airman for the first time, I would try in some small way to express gratitude for their noble contributions to overall mission and shed light on how they were superbly contributing. Whether meeting a food service worker, defender, maintainer or pilot, all specialties in my mind are necessary for military mission success and ensuring they understood this was central to my mission as a servant leader. The same is true in other walks of life including Leadership Spokane where my colleagues, Ruth and Jaxon, each have a vital role in our noble leadership mission and I do my best in evaluations and side comments to make that clear.
So this holiday season, I hope It’s A Wonderful Life serves as more than an enjoyable movie. I hope it reminds us as leaders that our purpose is to reveal the richness of our follower’s lives to them. Leaders do have a wonderful life particularly when we can share that sentiment with those we lead. Life does not always have Hollywood endings, but any life with friends and family can be a happy ending. Leaders know it’s a wonderful life.
Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he? ~ Clarence