In pursuit of an answer to the most pressing question of my life: How do I truly offer my life; professionally, physically, intellectually, and spiritually, to God in such a way that no man living or dead could do it better, my first stop on the journey landed my in the state Texas. While I had studied leadership and leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Coach Tony Dungy, Malcolm X and others in my Master's Degree Program, my journey to Texas provided me a first real opportunity to test the theories and ideas I had formulated. Part of the journey to Texas included a continued pursuit in higher education from the start - The picture above is of my girls and I on my interview at Dallas Baptist University for the opportunity to study Educational Leadership in the Cook School of Leadership. Following the life changing conversation with my mentor, I decided that in the 6 years between the time of the conversation and my 35th birthday, I would try to cross every T and dot every I to avoid the rejection of qualifications ever again, no longer would any one every be able to say I had not done everything within my power to achieve the goals and dreams I had set for myself. In my mind, I would have years of leadership experiences under my belt in addition to a doctoral degree following my time in Texas, which would be the spring board to my ULTIMATE GOAL. Though I had a vision for what the journey would Intel, I had no idea what God had in store for me in Texas. For the first time in my life, my family would be completely on our own. We would be left to the guidance of my leadership alone. Additionally, my marriage would be pushed to levels I never knew possible due in large part to our ability to learn from our mistakes and the love and support of our extended Texas family.
Leadership in my mind was about the leader’s actions towards a group as they pursue a common goal. Prior to assuming my first leadership position I asked a lot of questions of leaders I respected and admired. Over and over I asked about the “secret” to Level 5 leadership, as Jim Collins stated. Repeatedly I was told that it’s all about the people. What I didn’t realize was that “it’s all about the people” meant something completely different than what I expected. No longer was it important to make friends, leadership was about building relationships upon a foundation of trust, consistency, and reliability, more often than not, those characteristics do not come packaged in a nice neat “friendly” package. For a cordial, consensus driven, aspiring leader those characteristics required difficult conversations and challenging situations.
Leadership is hard. Add to that position the isolation and microscope often associated with leadership positions and you get a receipt for frustration. What I leaned from my journey west is that many times our ambition and ability can outpace ones’ character and temperament. Be careful what you wish for aspiring leader…you just might get what you’re asking for.