Leading with lollipops

How many of you are completely comfortable with calling yourselves a leader?

Drew Dudley asks this question to begin one of my most favorite TED talks. If you have 6 minutes just go watch it now.

If you feel like reading – let me highlight some of his thoughts to you. Yep, it’s pretty much a transcript of his TED talk and I can’t emphasize enough how much this resonates with me and how it profoundly changed the way I interact with people around me.

Leading with lollipops
Image source: Pixabay free images

But first. Why the lollipop? If you want to hear the original story just go ahead and watch Drew Dudley’s TED talk. There is no way I can convey it. I will just say that one of the lollipops he was randomly handing out got to a girl and it impacted her life. She actually shared the story with him only four years later saying this: “I haven’t spoken to you once in the four years since that day. But I heard that you were leaving, and I had to come and tell you you’ve been an incredibly important person in my life. I’m going to miss you. Good luck.”

How many of you guys have a lollipop moment, a moment where someone said or did something that you feel fundamentally made your life better? How many of you have told that person they did it? Why not? We let people who have made our lives better walk around without knowing it. Every single one of you has been the catalyst for a lollipop moment. You’ve made someone’s life better by something you said or did. If you think you haven’t, you’re just one of the people who hasn’t been told.

It’s scary to think of ourselves as that powerful, frightening to think we can matter that much to other people. As long as we make leadership something bigger than us, as long as we keep leadership beyond us and make it about changing the world, we give ourselves an excuse not to expect it every day, from ourselves and from each other.

Marianne Williamson said,

“Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. It is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light and not our darkness that frightens us.”

We need to get over our fear of how extraordinarily powerful we can be in each other’s lives. We need to get over it so we can move beyond it, and our little brothers and sisters and one day our kids — or our kids right now — can watch and start to value the impact we can have on each other’s lives, more than money and power and titles and influence. We need to redefine leadership as being about lollipop moments — how many of them we create, how many we acknowledge, how many of them we pay forward and how many we say thank you for. Because we’ve made leadership about changing the world, and there is no world. There’s only six billion understandings of it.

And if you change one person’s understanding of it, understanding of what they’re capable of, understanding of how much people care about them, understanding of how powerful an agent for change they can be in this world, you’ve changed the whole thing.


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