“With great sadness in my heart I must tell you that…” was the opening of an email message I received last evening informing me of the closing of another life. I was shocked, confused and all that my quivering lips could utter was a pained “No!” It was a legacy refined, one that began in life and shall forever be immortalized.
I still remember these words that I wrote to Anna back in December 2011. “You are what I call the Swedish Iron Lady. Your attention to detail is unrivaled! I always knew that you would spot any full stop I omitted in my work. You provided an opportunity for me to prove my worth. You mentored me, trained me, and above all believed that I could become a better communication specialist. In you, a platform existed from which I could launch myself into the future. Thank you Anna for giving me the opportunity.”
She had a beautiful smile that let me know all things would work out even in the most bleak of situations. She was gentle as she was tough is her expectations of me. Resilience was her hallmark and she would not stop until she was sure that I was close to my potential. Her inspiration allowed me to bridge the gap and reach out to that potential.
As I went through all these emotions, it dawned on me what a great leader she was to me. To date, every work I do has her imprint on it. I can’t stand bad writing. My temples pulsate every time I receive a poorly punctuated email message. I think structure any time I hear ‘content’.
Anna leaves behind a few lessons for all of us aspiring to be better leaders.
Smile often: It communicates warmth and the humanity in you [TweetMe]. It is amazing the effect a smile has on someone else. It breaks down barriers and helps unlock the magical door into their hearts. A smile shows a healthy dose of optimism that all will be well, regardless.
“We become what we think about most of the time, and that’s the strangest secret.” ~Earl Nightingale.
Gentle is okay: Leaders do not have to lead by fear [TweetMe]. Temper your firmness with love. You are leading people, not robots. In your toughness, your followers need to remember that you have their best interests at heart. It helps to build trust between you and your followers. That will always win the day.
“The glue that holds all relationships together – including the relationship between; the leader and the led is trust, and trust is based on integrity.” ~ Brian Tracy
Inspiration is possible: I don’t need to be a great orator to inspire others towards their potential [TweetMe]. All I need to do is to figure out their potential and partner with them to realize their innate ability. Once we are both on the same page, difficult situations become learning opportunities.
“A man can be as great as he wants to be. If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay for the price the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.” ~ Vince Lombardi.
Seize the moment: The last time Anna was in Kenya, she invited us to join her and her daughter on a holiday. It was an impromptu proposition. My silly excuse was that we could not afford the trip. I have learned a heavy lesson, and I will now invest more in meaningful relationships. That is what legacies are made of [TweetMe].
Anna, you lead, cared and built. You are gone in body but your legacy lives on in many of us. Your legacy is built not on what you are, but who you are, and the hearts you touched.
Are you reaching out to people’s hearts?
photo credit: Paul Mundy