by Lori Brower
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
This quote is found in Lee’s book, “The Brower Quadrant.” Leadership is a cornerstone principle of Empowered Wealth. Lee discusses the differences between leadership and management, which are often confused as being one in the same. He has identified “The Five C’s of True Leadership” as follows:
The topic of leadership has come up in our family quite often of late and I thought I would put two of our family members to the leadership test.
Obviously, Lee is very conscious of his effort to be a true leader. He is very clear in his vision and deeply grateful for the opportunities that support it. He is “present” in the now and avoids the pitfalls of regret and a vision without action. His systems are consistent and his actions are followed through with courage in a vulnerable society. He allows each individual, whether at home or at work, to find his or her own unique contributions.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have a daughter, now 20 years old. We have always believed Carly will be a superior leader – not because she is so bossy – but because of her solid sense of purpose (ok, being bossy is relevant, too). We have placed her in structured “learning opportunities” hoping to develop her leadership skills: “Motivating the Teen Spirit” with Lisa Nichols and SuperCamp at age 17. She completed both with glimpses of potential peeking through but she was still more concerned about having to go without a cell phone for 10 consecutive days than learning.
We then suggested she apply to be a camp counselor for the for the summer after she graduated from high school. This foundation is committed to educational and recreational programs for youth to children living in two of the nation’s most violent and impoverished cities, Hartford, CT and Philadelphia, PA. Carly chose to work at Hartford on the campus of Trinity College.
Keep in mind Carly knew NO ONE and was the youngest counselor by two years. She packed up all of her earthly belongings and flew across the country on her own. Lee and I are close friends with the founders of ESF (Education, Sports & Fun) and were assured of her safety. She wasn’t so sure, especially once she realized she had a mouse in her dorm room, soon to be nicknamed, “Stuart Little.”
Her learning came quickly. These children had to be nominated by a pastor or teacher to be accepted into the camp – they WANTED to be there, they WANTED to learn. She volunteered to work overtime by riding the bus to pick up and drop off the day campers. ESF has a strict policy of parent-to-counselor-back to parent handoff, never leaving a camper alone. She got to personally observe the environment these children were living in; the same environment she was not allowed to walk around after dark.
Her bonding with her assigned group was instantaneous. She adored her little ones – ages 5 and 6 – and they her. Her heart would melt when being asked a question that began with, “Miss Carly, will you….” Pool time was a favorite activity. And the dance contest? Oh my, she could shake it with the best of them! She was always amazed how they all knew the rap songs verbatim.
She also witnessed how the Board of Education and the State Health Department, in an effort to help, made a terrible decision when strictly enforcing uneaten food to be thrown away. Even apples and untouched half sandwiches were tossed. Carly knew that many of the children were having their only meal when at camp and would have gladly taken the leftover food home.
After seven exhausting weeks, she flew home. In her hands, she kept the file of goodbye letters written from her little ones as her tears dropped on the paper.
It was clear to her that she had taken her education for granted; her home for granted; her family for granted. It was clear she had much to offer.
Her consciousness of how life outside of her comfort zone had expanded tenfold. It was not at all how she had envisioned. She had not even given it any thought, actually.
She learned consistency with little ones was a necessary tool for setting boundaries and earning respect.
She acknowledged the courage in those children for having a vision for a better future. They walked through their fear so they could learn. She realized she had never really known fear at all.
Her compassion for her kids, as she referred to them, was enormous. Maybe behavior did reflect circumstances; maybe things are not always as they seem; maybe opening her heart allowed love to encourage them to succeed – for her to make a difference.
Carly is a leader. And I am very proud of her for taking that leap of faith and embrace the “learning opportunity” that came her way.