Monday, January 25, 2021

1983 - Leadership Lesson on Respect and Empowerment


Yours truly (L) and Julie (R) at camp circa 1983

(Fifty Nifty Years in the United States Series)

I had a great counterpart at the YMCA in Temple City, California and for some time after that. At first Julie and I seemed to always argue. We fed off each other. First I think it all started off as competition. We wanted to out shine one another in what we could do or at least I wanted to outshine her.

Then it became about inspiration. I would do something at the Y and Julie would do something and we would make it better. Then like any relationship, it evolved to be more complicated. We did great work together in serving the children and community of the Y in Temple City. This was the year we decided to run a camp session.

And we had others as well like the year we wanted to paint the Y building; the year we went door to door asking for donations for the Y; or the summer we all became lifeguards to be able to teach kids how to swim (inspired by a little girl who drown just around the corner from the Y in her backyard pool).

I think Julie spearheaded most of these and I got to graciously add into the mix. No one told us what we couldn’t do so we did it. That previous year we had attended my senior prom and then we both went and worked for a few sessions at Bluff Lake I was the archery instructor and Julie was the arts and crafts instructor. (I think that is a picture from that time above).

It always seemed that whatever challenge we had for our little YMCA, Julie was behind the inspiration to do something about it. I stumbled on this bit of spirit and became addicted to the creativity that lent itself to find a way.

At one point during college, my job at the Y (for about 7 months) was to find new school or church sites and convince the principle or pastor to allow us to take over. We had what we called the "Y Squad" and we would show up just prior to the final school bell. (With the principals blessings of course). We would leap out of the van in our Y gear, with an earth ball, a parachute and several other items in hand to get kids playing. They all left with a flier promoting the new program for the school or local church. We opened 11 sites in 7 months that way. I recall Julie was on the planning end of this endeavor and how to make sure that organizationally and structurally, we were ready for those sites. 

In all this there was high school, college, camp, Beatlemania (did we see it 5 or 6 times?) and the Groovy Flowers. Camp songs, singing and dancing, and so many movies; then always back to service. It was the partnership that inspired me to always do more when it came to service. I am forever grateful for Julie and her example.

Did I mention that Julie volunteered for nearly two years at the Y and always gave and gave and gave? I started my paid position in 1980 and she still came to work every day giving more. I knew I could never compete and it was when I started thinking “why?”  Why do people give of their time and of their resources. Why do they come back more and more when they get nothing out of it? And of course people do get something out of giving their time and talent and treasure. I have found that is different for everyone. Einstein said it best “Only a life lived for others is worth living.” It was clear to me that is what inspired Julie.

Julie started me on that path and I think back on those days with so much joy for the life lessons learned and the great example I gained from her dedication. There were so many that were part of this story including my sister Jackie, Sandy, Mike, Lisa, Dave, Bill, Tony, Amber, Sean, Jolene, Elaine, Bob, Art, Barbara, Debbie, Lucia, Letty, Paul, Ken, Ann, and our leader Maxine and then Wally. 

I reflect on several of John Maxwell's Laws here: The Law of Respect and how people follow those stronger than themselves; the Law of the Inner Circle and how our potential is determined by those around us; and finally the Law of Empowerment as Julie showed that a secure leader gave power to those around her with out thought of compensation.

They were all where a part of it as well and I am grateful to each of them for their contribution to who I am. But the stand out for me remains Julie, who helped shape who I am as I have spent the 50 plus year in these United States.

Post Script - I want to invite you again, to those who are reading this to consider a comment. Let me know where you are in the world and your thoughts on leadership as well. I invite you to hit the "FOLLOW" button so you will receive the latest story reminder. 

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