Leadership Island

Leadership Island

For those of you old enough to remember, there was once a television show named “Fantasy Island.” Guests would arrive by pontoon plane, greeted by Mr. Roarke, and handed a drink. They described their unfulfilled dream and with incredible hope, would embark on what they believed to be their destiny.

I loved this show for so many reasons, the 1980’s stars, the tropical setting, but most of all because of that look every guest had on their face when they stepped on this island, explained to Mr. Roarke what they believed they needed to happen and walked away believing they knew what they predestine to happen was the only road map to peace and happiness. I will let you know how the show always ended at the end of this post…but I wanted to have you visualize our leadership skills as more of an island and less of a land mass.

For our male readers, this is more of a better understanding on how the women in your life are socialized to view themselves but for our female readers, this is a challenge to see yourself differently.

I was born an advocate…I shut down my 4th grade PE class because I challenged the way the teacher let some kids dictate how teams were picked. You would think that someone who found her voice so early would be comfortable being different, but I never was. I always felt I was on the outside looking in on a fantastic party that everyone was invited to but me.

It wasn’t till I met my husband and he put my leadership qualities in perspective for me. He told me that leaders stand alone. A leader doesn’t doesn’t say what it necessarily popular, but says what needs to be said. I can’t tell you how much this put my mind at ease. There were so many times that I thought I was standing up for the “little guy” or social justice but when I looked to my teachers, mentors, co-workers, bosses, or even friends, I heard silence or even worse sharp criticism. How lonely! and I must be wrong, because I am alone…

I was wrong. Standing up for what is right will often leave you standing alone, like an island, but you are not wrong. That is where my metaphor of leadership as an island comes in, men or women. If you are looking to be a leader at any point of your life, you will at some point be alone. New ideas/concepts scare people and they would rather hold on to what they believe to be true. Do not let that stop you from challenging the norm because what we know about leadership is what we know to be true about islands. Sometimes you will be that strange island off the beach in Long Beach, CA, no one quite knows what purpose you serve but you have to be there for a reason so they will eventually leave you alone. Sometimes you will be Hawaii, everyone wants to be close to you for your natural beauty yet they know they can not stay and you will eventually be alone again. Do not let the fear of being alone stop you from being a leader. Who would not want to be Hawaii if given the chance? Why wouldn’t we raise our girls and boys to be this kind of natural beauty even knowing that sometimes they will stand alone?

My point is that we should be raising our children to be leadership islands not land locked masses. We can raise them to speak the truth on behalf of those whose voices are silenced in our communities and societies in a way that shows them the beauty of leadership while teaching them to ride out the times when they are alone in standing for their principles.

One last point is that we truly are not islands. Although we can raise our children to be comfortable in accepting their voice and empowering them as leaders, our words and actions have ripple effects on the community at large and that also needs to be taught to our children. Just like when you land in Hawaii and you are asked not to bring in any foreign objects that would disrupt the ecosystem, so should we educate our children in their words and actions. We do not say or do things just because we think they are “right,” we say and do what we have studied and mindfully believe to be best for our ecosystem (our community/society). When we approach leadership in this mindset, we are better prepared to stand alone.

I promised you I would let you know how the show “Fantasy Island” ended, that was another reason I loved this show. The guests never had the experience they thought they would when they first landed on the island, and yet they were always grateful for what they experienced. When we teach our children (or learn for ourselves), that our life experiences are unpredictable but to believe in the unimaginable, we all can leave the “island” like the guests on Fantasy Island. Pure gratitude…

On a personal note, Happy Birthday to one of the strongest women I know…my mom! You amaze me everyday! It is because of you and the amazing women (Grandma) that came before us that frees us to be who we are. I adore you!

-Cheryl L.

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