GO to the people
LIVE among the people
LEARN from them
START with what they know,
BUILD on what they have.
But of the BEST leaders,
When their TASK is accomplished,
Their WORK is done,
The PEOPLE will remark,
"WE HAVE DONE IT OURSELVES."
Yesterday, the Premier of Alberta came to the shelter where I work to present a cheque for $7 million. The monies are to be spent on acquiring an apartment building for affordable housing. It was a joyous occasion, a special event that staff, clients and dignitaries attended. Behind the Premier, easels with art works created by shelter artists were on display. At one point, our Exec. Dir. presented the Premier with an oil painting by one of our artists. A beautiful prairie wheatfield -- a wheatfield to remind the Premier of his roots, his pioneer spirit.
At the end of the event, as the Exec Dir., made a few closing comments and asked for final questions, one of the attendees asked, "Can you tell us more about the art on display?"
The Exec Dir., looked around and said, "Louise?"
I was standing to his right, along the windows on one side of the room. I wasn't prepared to speak that day, my mind was engaged in making sure the event went smoothly. Startled by his question, I replied, "What?"
Ah, the elegance and eloquence of me living in the moment can be stunning.
He smiled, motioned for me to come to the podium. "Louise should tell you about the program. It's her baby," he told the audience.
That is the sign of a superb leader. He could have taken the time, stood in the limelight with all the TV cameras and reporters, and talked about art.works. Instead, he stepped out of the limelight and passed the microphone to me.
The reality is, we have done it ourselves, all of us. The Exec Dir. the other Directors, the staff who support us and applaud us, the clients who support and applaud us, the media, the public who come out to our shows, the artists who come and give workshops. We have done it ourselves.
Later, I chatted with a couple of clients who came to hear the Premier. One of the clients attends Project Forward on Wednesday nights. He was telling another client about how much the program has helped him. "You should apply to come," he told the other man. "It's really helped me find the courage to speak. I'm learning a lot."
I was surprised. And pleased. It is rewarding to know the program is being well received. It is rewarding to hear him encourage someone else to come.
I thanked him for his support and he replied. "Seriously. I never talked before." He laughed. "Now, I'm getting over my fear."
"What are you afraid of?" I asked.
"That I'll say something stupid." he replied.
I laughed. "You mean like answering, "Whatttt?" in front of a room full of people, a room filled with TV cameras and reporters?"
He laughed harder. "Yup!"
"So, now you don't have to fear it. I did it. I'm still standing."
He smiled. "That's our Louise," he replied. "Irrepressible."
"If I can do it and laugh at myself, so can you."
He paused. Thought for a moment. Nodded his head. "Yes. I can."
The question is: Are you willing to step into your fear and be who you are? An irrepressible human being laughing at the wonder of your silly human foibles imbued with the magnificence of you?