I’ll never forget her face. My grandmother could enter any room and literally bring additional light to it. She spent the last years of her career as a youth minister, and I watched with pride the way she impacted the people around her.
Her ideas weren’t the greatest ideas in the world, her youth trips were pretty standard, and the activities pretty unexceptional. But it didn’t matter, because she had the ability to plug people into her energy in a way that made them glad to be a part of her youth group.
I remember when she was taken to the emergency room in her early seventies because she was playing softball with the youth team. Shortstop. She stepped in because one of the youth was sick.The kids thought that was so cool.
Grandmom had a bigger turnout at her youth events than any other youth minister in town because her events were fun. People laughed and engaged each other in conversation. She wasn’t competing for youth minister of the year, she was simply enjoying the people around her.
I even remember when, in her eighties, after she had suffered a series of mini-strokes that robbed her of most of her memory, she refused to stop shining. My mom said that on Halloween her retirement village had dressed her up as a butterfly. She came down the hallway slowly. Mom said she looked adorable with big wings and antennae, and even with the loss of memory she giggled and her eyes sparkled.
She leaned into mom, her antennae hitting her in the face. Her only words were, “I don’t know why I’m dressed this way.” Then she and mom laughed uproariously together.
Based on what I learned from this remarkable woman, I have created the following “Leadership Commandments:”
That’s right. Caring about people translates to dollars. But if you care about them only because of the return, it won’t work. Try just caring because people need your leadership and help. The rest will follow. And if all else fails, lighten somebody else’s life. The return wattage will be worth it.