Who Do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

Have you thought seriously about “who” you want to be when you grow up? I didn’t ask “what” you want to be when you grow up. I didn’t even ask “if” you wanted to grow up.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: We are all leaders. We may have one follower or we may have millions. That can be a good thing or it can be a bad thing. If we live our lives in such a way as to inspire and motivate others to greatness, we are great leaders.

I know several folks who are leaders, but they have no title as such. I gravitate to them because they make me want to be a better person, to be “more” than I am now. They find ways to serve and to encourage. They don’t just let life happen, they make an effort to move in a certain direction.

I have been blessed to have many amazing opportunities. Some I chose to embrace; others I chose to pass by. When I was younger, I would look for those things that would bring me excitement and challenge. Some were good choices; others were not. As I get older, I have different criteria. Will this help my retirement plan? Will this be good for my marriage and my family? Will this allow me to sleep at night? The older I get, the more I appreciate the “big picture” and the consequences. When I was younger, I just figured if it didn’t kill me, that was enough.

Last week, I was attending my tenth Aflac Winter Kick-Off. (My first was as a brand-new agent in January 2008.) There was an opportunity to go to the stage and break a board with my bare hand. Steve was sitting beside me and he gave me a nudge. For those who know me well, you know that nudge was just what I needed to jump out of my chair.

My Aflac teammates cheered, which was so exhilarating. When I actually succeeded in breaking the board and not my hand, no one could have been more surprised than I was! Adrenaline was pumping through my veins like never before…or at least, not that I can recall. My feelings after breaking through a seemingly impossible barrier ran the gamut from inspired, to unstoppable, to doubting, to “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” It was a great moment that I won’t soon forget.

The lessons are many: impossible barriers aren’t as hard to breach as we might think, having the best darn team cheering for you is priceless, and mental focus matters. This was no feat of superhuman strength. I was set up to succeed. I know that, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that I made the trek up to the stage and exposed myself to the experience. I knew that I might not break the board but not trying at all wasn’t an option. Failure isn’t as bad as not even making an effort.

If you are in a position of leadership, set up your team for success. Insofar as it is it is possible, create an atmosphere of comradery and trust with an expectation of great things. Most of us will walk through fire with someone we know truly has our best interest at heart. Not all leaders have this mentality, but they could if they wanted it.

All of us can have this mentality with everyone we meet each day. Behave with integrity. Expect great things. Consider others’ best interest. Inspire and encourage others to live to their potential.

Do you have a dream or a barrier? Consider this blog a nudge to go for it! Take a deep breath to cleanse your spirit, ask your friends and family to cheer for you and then follow through with the punch.