My wife will tell you that I can’t dance. Not really dance. No danger of you seeing me on Dancing With the Stars or any other such foolishness. And she’s right. I get out there and shuffle around. My feet keep time with the music and move in a predictable pattern, but there’s no real fluidity to my upper body. It’s pretty bad actually. But I still get out there even though I know it must be a bit funny looking. I enjoy the movement and the music, so I don’t mind if it’s not elegant.
This week I attended an event at the Wooden Floor and I was blown away by the link between this dance program and building our future leaders. It became really clear to me. The children and young adults involved in this program come from a variety of backgrounds. Most are there on some sort of scholarship since they are from families with very meager means. That is why we were there, to help with the funding; to support these valuable young minds.
Several of the students were there to share their stories with us. It was phenomenal. Such poise and determination! They all spoke well, some more eloquently than others, but all spoke of their dreams, what the wooden floor has meant to them and how they will now go on to change the world.
That’s when I got clarity on the leadership connection. They were not comfortable there, in front of all those people – adults, business people, board members. Yet they were willing to get out of their comfort zone and speak of their dreams, desires and accomplishments. That is the stuff of leadership. Leaders are comfortable being uncomfortable. They take the risks. They are vulnerable. And while these young people had every right to be defensive, closed and skeptical, they all showed that the wooden floor has made them confident, open and able to extend trust to others.
I believe leaders are mostly “made,” as opposed to being born natural leaders. Any programs we put in place to teach young people to think, collaborate, set goals and be self-disciplined will go a long way towards growing our next crop of leaders. This program is among the best I’ve seen lately. I am grateful to the DifferenceMakersOC organization for putting this and other fabulous programs together. We are building leaders at every level and we will need to step up our game if we intend to compete in this global economy.
Are you growing leaders? What are you doing to help others with that task?