The word transparent keeps hovering over me lately like a helicopter.
Webster’s Dictionary defines transparency as fine or sheer enough to be seen through, free from pretense or deceit, readily understood.
I quickly put the word to leadership principles. My ultimate goal will always be to lead by example. Because lets face it, when it’s “do as I say, not as I do” we are not as effective as we could be.
Jesus was and is the perfect example of leading by example. He will never ask us to do something that He himself has not done. In the same way, I will never ask my students or leaders to do something that I myself have not done or am not willing to do.
I recently read John Maxwell’s “The Five Levels Of Leadership”. In the book he talks about leading by example and the effect that we can have on others. He shared this quote that will forever be in my mind and heart.
“Be the change you wish to see in this world”. –Mahatma Gandhi
It followed up with this story about a young boy and his obsession with sugar.
During 1930′s, a young boy had become obsessed with eating sugar. His mother was very upset with this. But no matter how much she scolded him and tried to break his habit, he continued to satisfy his sweet tooth. Totally frustrated, she decided to take her son to see his idol – Mahatma Gandhi; perhaps her son would listen to him.
She walked miles, for hours under scorching sun to finally reach Gandhi’s ashram. There, she shared with Gandhi her predicament. -“Bapu, my son eats too much sugar. It is not good for his health. Would you please advise him to stop eating it?”
Gandhi listened to the woman carefully, thought for a while and replied,“Please come back after two weeks. I will talk to your son.”
The woman looked perplexed and wondered why had he not asked the boy to stop eating sugar right away. She took the boy by the hand and went home.
Two weeks later they revisited Gandhi. Gandhi looked directly at the boy and said,“Boy, you should stop eating sugar. It is not good for your health.”
The boy nodded and promised he would not continue this habit any longer. The boy’s mother was puzzled. She turned to Gandhi and asked,“Bapu, Why didn’t you tell him that two weeks ago when I brought him here to see you?”
Gandhi smiled,“Mother, two weeks ago I was eating a lot of sugar myself.”
We won’t always get it right; in fact we will inevitably mess up along the way. Ever find yourself telling students to do things that you yourself fall short on?
You should read your bible everyday
You should spend daily time with God
You should serve and be involved
Seems so easy to tell our students to do all of the right things, but to be completely honest I find myself falling short of these things at times. This is where being transparent comes in handy. I always remind my students that I am not perfect, and that I, like everyone else will fall short of the mark.
Does that give them permission to stop trying? No. But it shows them that even their leader struggles. The struggle is what ultimately will make us stronger and better people. Our character is constantly being tested and put through the fire.
We need to be reminders to them that they are not alone.
My pastor has always said to me that we should be the same person on stage as we are off stage. I will continue striving to be the leader that is consistent in all she does and all she is.
To lead by example in EVERYTHING I do. That means being conscious of what gets posted on social media, who I spend my time with, what I spend my time doing, most of all that my words and my actions would consistently match up.
I leave you with this; “If your actions inspire others to dream more, earn more, do more and become more, you are a leader”-John Quincy Adams
Be the leader that pushes others to be the best they can be.