Monday, October 12, 2020

1969 – Early Influences – Nothing More, Nothing Less


(50 Nifty Years in United States Series)

I know some of you might be thinking, Al, in 1969 you were 5 years old and watching the first season of Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers to learn how to speak English. (True story).

John C. Maxwell graduated from Ohio Christian University and went on to a Masters of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry. He was just out of college and assigned to his first pastoral duty. He is my friend and mentor. While we did not meet until February of 2014, his influence began here and led to the dozens of books (of over a 100 he has written) that I have read and enthusiastically adopted those teachings.

In 2014, I met John at a Maxwell Leadership Certification program. I had adopted his readings about a dozen years earlier and his books kept showing up. I had received as a gift in 2005 a copy of “Leadership Promises for Every Day” from the CEO of the Capital Region YMCA. (Thanks again Peggy Conklin). The book is a 365 daily devotional. (I take February 29 off when it rolls around and apparently so does John.)

Here is what I have adopted in his teachings. I have a tremendous amount of potential and I have harnessed that with those around me to always move forward. As early as 1980 when I began my work with the YMCA, my friends (who worked along with me there) were never limited. I think about those days and no one told us we couldn’t do something that we wanted to do.

When we were told that we needed more children in our program, we went out and got more locations so we could serve more children. We did not have the youth signed up, but when we had the location; we filled the sight.

It was our mobile marketing Y-Van. With permission from a school, we would show up as the school was about to ring the closing bell. As the bell rang, and kids would empty the building, we would open the van doors and come out with an earth ball, parachute, soccer balls and other activities. We would engage kids for half an hour and as they walked away, we would hand them a flier about signing up for the program. (I know many of you are thinking, that could never happen today.) It was the creative use of our imagination and a director that led us by asking questions (another trait I gained form many mentors including John).

In 1984 over the span of 7 months, we opened 11 after school sites serving the communities that were under served.  

We discovered that our small group of dedicated folks could do just about anything for the Y and that community when we put our minds to it. I have so much appreciation for those early lessons and especially for those whom I served alongside.

I read a story from John in 2016 about his life in 1969 and the lessons he learned. I realized I had lived a version of them as well. Here is the link for that story.

Since it is always about beginnings and endings, I choose this year that set his path towards my own. After all, “leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.”


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