By Anthony T. Eaton
“You don’t need a title to be a leader, and having a title doesn’t make you one.”
I believe everyone has the potential and opportunity to be a leader no matter their status, education or position they hold. Everything we do has the potential to affect, influence and potentially change someone else’s life. Sooner or later we will be a role model to someone else. It is our choice if it is a positive or negative experience for them and us.
If you don’t think this is true, consider the following.
Katherine and Isabell Adams were 5 and 8 years old when they had a goal to raise $500 to help fund a well in Ethiopia by giving handcrafted origami Christmas ornaments at a local Starbucks to anyone that would make a donation. Within two months they had not only met their goal of $500 but exceeded that amount with donations totaling over$10K. As a result, they were able to more than fund a whole well, not just contribute to it.
Today their non-profit organization Paper For Water raises money for wells all over the world. They were 5 and 8 years old when they started!
Anne Frank is one of the most discussed Jewish victims of the Holocaust having gained fame posthumously following the publication of her diary in 1947 three years after her death. Yet in the years she spent in hiding she could have had no idea that her fate would stand as not only a record of the holocaust but also serve as a lesson in perseverance under unimaginable circumstances. Anne’s diary is not just a record and lesson but a testament to the strength and faith of a child as illustrated in the following quote.
“I keep my ideals, because in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”
It is often the smallest of things that make the biggest difference. Jaden Hayes lost both of his parents by the time he was six, first his dad and then unexpectedly his mom. In the story about him by Steve Hartman Jaden said,
“I tried and I tried and I tried to get her awake — I couldn’t,” and “Anybody can die, just anybody,”
The grief of a child is inconsolable. Yet Jaden did not let his own grief stand in the way of his bringing smiles to those he encountered who themselves seemed sad. With the help of his aunt he purchased small toys and gave them to strangers to make them smile. A six-year old who lost both of his parents helped not only ease his own grief and sadness but that of others through the simple gesture of a token gift to bring a smile.
Leadership comes in all kinds of ways big and small, loud and quiet. It is not calculated but organic and grows from a sense of purpose and service. These three examples exemplify leadership at its core and if a child can do it then anyone can.