My son has felt negative about everything lately which has created for him a vicious cycle of disdain and despair. He is a lot like me, so whenever we learn a lesson about him, it usually has something to do with how I’m wired as well. He and I sat in bed a few nights ago and I walked him through this very basic method of how leaders have a choice to make:
First, I talked about how he and I are gifted with the ability to think deeply about things, and thus we see things that other people don’t see. We have the responsibility of being able to see problems that other people don’t see. Something that bothers him is how his cub scout pack meetings spend too much time talking to the parents and that leaves him feeling like the meeting isn’t his. When I asked one of his good friends about cub scouts, his friend said, “It’s good.”
I’m cursed as well about seeing problems everywhere. I talked to a police officer one time that told me that every room he goes into, even if it’s inside a church, he automatically tries to ascertain who in that room is a potential threat. That man has a similar curse: he sees problems that other people don’t see.
I then asked Samuel why he thought President Obama wanted to be President. “Because he wanted to be famous.” I told him how there are better ways of being famous. The truth is Mr. Obama became President Obama because he saw problems that others didn’t see and cared enough about them to get in public life. A leader always starts with a perception of something wrong in the world. If nothing was wrong, there would be no leaders.
So it’s a given that a potential leader sees problems. It is our curse. The question now, is: what are we going to do about it? There are two choices:
A potential leader could choose the path of negativity, disdain, and ultimately despair. This is the path of the critic, the internet troll, or the quitter. This is the path my son was on and one I’ve been on many times. I can see what’s wrong with the situation, and my response is to continue to criticize or believe that nothing will ever change and quit. It’s even easier to do this when I’m the only one who sees the problems! Well of course you’re the only one who sees the problems; perhaps that’s because you’re the one who is supposed to do something about it!
Or a potential leader could choose the path of taking action, improvement, patience, and love. In other words a potential leader could choose the path of leadership. This is the path I encouraged Samuel to take. The question isn’t what problems do you see with cub scout pack meetings; the question is what are you going to do about those problems? When you see a problem with a group of people, the loving thing you can do is, within your power, help solve that problem with them! It’s not to despair and quit.
Sometimes problems are so deep and impenetrable that there is nothing you can do about them. At that point the best thing to do is quit. However, most times the problems are there and as a leader we can work to make them better. That’s the path of leadership, the path of people who are cursed with the ability to recognize problems that others don’t see and choose to take action to solve those problems.