Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Of Leadership and Fish Tales

I remember an old love letter I received almost seventeen (17) years ago by a now good friend who is now married to someone else. We were about to enter college separately xxx He wrote that he likened me to a fish that dwelled in a small river. According to him, in that small river, this small fish was a rare, beautiful specie that swam its waters like it owned it. He feared that the small fish, when it is released in the vast ocean, might lose its way and forget that it was once a rare, beautiful specie.

True enough, in college, I was content to be part of the herd and remained with anonymous majority. For a time, I thought my old friend was right. I really was an insignificant fish in the vast ocean. I had no qualms since the quiet life suited me – growing up alone makes one comfortable with the company we keep in the empty moments. Gone was the high school go-getter who once wanted to be in – and excel in - everything but the dance club.

But I learned that life has a funny way to teach us its lessons. Due to financial constraints, I have always been taking on part-time employment since college xxx The toll that it took on my time and energy forced me to manage my time efficiently so I can cope with my studies. On hindsight, this was pivotal in revitalizing whatever leadership potential I used to have in high school. It taught me how to best encourage the class to be well-organized, without compromising the quality of our reports and the fun in our non-academic activities xxx

After the first month in the MBA program, I knew that developing my leadership skills would be a priority. This does not mean, though, that I would jump at every leadership opportunity offered by my classes. Cultivating leadership would have to begin with the little things like moderating the class egroup and facilitating the class activities. With my age, I am pressed to set an example for my peers – as a case in point, L7, my OB group, and create a standard of excellence in an atmosphere of genuine camaraderie. Also, every interaction with my professors meant a chance to partake of their wisdom and experience. These are helping me get a great deal more out of the course than I might have otherwise.

Back to that love letter (which for some curious reason I still keep), I still believe that leadership is one of those gifts – like beauty and love - that are honed and appreciated best when we do not feign it, push it or shove it for people to accept and recognize. It develops best when we let it take its natural course. Like the small fish that will always, always rediscover its potential to lead – be it in the small river or in the vast ocean.

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