Planting a seed
When you think of a leader, what do you think of? Many of us think of teachers, bosses, or someone like Ghandi or Mother Theresa. The truth is that all of us have the ability to be a leader. The moments that come back to me, that people tell me they remember the most aren’t the ones that I see myself as being a leader, they are the moments in which I was kind, open, and present with someone.
Usually the moments that I am told are the most impressionable are the ones in which I plant a seed. They are the moments that I tell someone that their hair is amazing that day, or that the hat they are wearing looks amazing. They are the moments that I sneak up on someone, unknowing and let them know that in that moment they are doing amazing. The moments I want to be teaching moments often have little impact. It is the tiny moments that have the biggest impact. It is the moments that I am kind during a moment of someone’s darkest moments that I lead the best.
The scary part is that I have no idea when this moment is. I have no way of knowing when someone’s low point, or when they are vulnerable. So in order to lead, this means I just have to be present, open, honest, and kind with people all the time. Think of a moment that you remember someone making an impression on you. The things you hold on to, that teach you a lesson. Some of these moments for me are the ones that are during actual teaching moments. And many of them are during random moments when someone did something that spoke to me in a way that I remembered.
These teaching moments are all around us, and they can’t be planned. A lecture to a kid isn’t going to be remembered. The moment when they are low and you cheer them up will be. The moment when you are in the check-out line at the grocery store and you ask the person in the wheelchair behind you if you can help may be the moment they learn that people can be nice to them they just need to trust.
Ultimately, this is a long winded way to say “be nice to people, you don’t know when they will need your kindness”. We all have the chance to be leaders. We all have the chance to plant seeds in people. When we honk and flip people off in traffic we plant a seed of violence and anger. When we give the person behind in the check-out line the penny, nickle, or even dollar they are short of their bill, they are taught a lesson of kindness. These moments sneak up on us, and often we don’t remember them as others do. We just need to be kind. As often and as much as we can, we need to be kind. This is how we plant seeds.
I want to be a leader in kindness. This means all day, every day I need to plant seeds. When I wave the guy in that is trying to merge on the highway, or say something nice to someone on the street. When I pick up the dropped object from the person with full arms, or even pay it forward at the coffee shop I plant a seed. These are the seeds I want to plant. I want to be a leader. I try to do so in my practice, but the moments people remember the most are the ones in which I was genuine, honest, and kind. Go out in to your day and be genuine, honest, and kind. You will plant more seeds than you know, and be more of a leader than you ever thought you could be.