As I reflect on my own personal experience with leadership, I remember my friend Bill.
Bill Robinson was an imposing figure in most settings, not just for his large frame or his loud and full-of-life voice--and not just because he was the best-dressed man everywhere we went.
Bill always knew people wherever he was, really knew them; knew their names and significant upcoming life events and their personal history.
He was imposing because he was so authentic it made the average person uncomfortable.
Bill was a mentor to me. He was a friend. Bill taught leadership. I studied leadership.
Bill delivered his leadership sermon to many, and it always included a gregarious and unyielding statement that, “Leadership is a CHOICE!”
He would exclaim this, “Leadership is a CHOICE!” three times. “Leadership is a CHOICE!”
I believe you, Bill. Leadership is a choice.
I used to think that leadership was my choice, as a wannabe leader. That I could somehow choose to be a leader and that people would follow. I was almost right ~ I almost understood.
Bill died too early. He was way too young to leave this earth. He left many behind who loved him dearly. I loved him dearly.
His memorial service was attended by hundreds and there were hundreds more, like me, who could not attend. His memory and legacy live on. The positive impact he made on so many lives will ripple through generations.
Bill had cancer. He told only a few. He carried himself every day with pride and dignity and happiness and love and vision and optimism and humanity and clarity and conviction and faith and, and, and. Never with sorrow nor despair nor pity nor failure.
You see, Bill chose to live his life as a leader. Leadership was his choice. And I chose to follow Bill.
Bill Robinson informed my life immensely. He told me what he thought I was capable of and I believed him. I achieved more than I thought I could because I believed in Bill’s belief in me.
Leadership was my choice. Not to lead, no. My choice was to follow. And so there it was. Full and complete understanding.
Leadership is a choice.
Leadership is the choice of a person to follow another -- to allow themselves to be influenced by another. So much goes into this. Trust. Vulnerability. Belief.
Leadership is the choice of the follower.
Leadership is the choice of every individual in that we choose how to live and in so doing, we must acknowledge the potential that others who are watching may choose to follow us.
Therefore, I suppose we should be certain that we are living in a way that we want the world to mirror. Not necessarily always the choice of the leader, but certainly always the choice of those who follow.
Leadership is a choice.