WHEN GREAT OAKS REFUSE TO BEND
Is it just ME…or have you ever wondered why the small, seemingly weakest-of-all trees bend in the wind and the tall ones fall? HMMM!
The mighty winds of “Superstorm Sandy” (October, 2012) huffed and puffed over coastal New Jersey and New York. The small, fragile-looking trees bent as if on springs; the tallest and widest stood firmly planted. It seemed impossible for them to move at all. Yet, as if in the blink of an eye, these hundred year-old beauties seemed to uproot themselves! They lay across roadways, smashed through rooftops, crushed cars, took-down service wires, and forever changed the view in all directions. They reminded me of King Kong laying on 5th Avenue in New York City after plummeting from atop The Empire State Building. Both scenes broke my heart. Neither seemed real.
For years I’ve heard the banter about how miraculous it is that little trees survive and large ones fall. What’s the lesson? What is the Diva of all Divas, Mother Nature, herself wanting us to learn from this?
I offer you this – and I am sure I am not alone…
At the funeral of the late Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States (1969 – Aug, 1974), a comment in a eulogy stated that, and I paraphrase, “Only when a mighty oak falls can you truly measure its greatness”. (Loved it!) Yes, I thought, so true. Now while we will not discuss the controversial presidency of “Tricky Dick” (Hated it!) we will mention a few of his personality traits.
Richard Milhous Nixon in many ways was a strong leader. He served the world through his courageous stand on foreign policy. Agree or disagree, he was, I think you’ll agree, courageous in his approach to it.
Richard Milhous Nixon in some ways was a weak leader. It is argued that he could not grasp the fact that one day he would no longer be the ruler of the free world.
He was that mighty oak that resisted the wind until it could resist no more. He created the fall of what otherwise may have gone down in history as a stunning presidency – but for the right reason.
Leaders are funny people. You can only lead if others are willing to follow. But leaders must (should) view themselves as blessed to be of service to their followers; not the other way around.
Characteristics of Oak Tree Leadership
Standing too firm in one spot
Not appreciating your followers
Not inviting their thoughts and opinions
Disregarding their feedback
Leading them where you want to go
In short, ignoring the change in the wind.
Characteristics of Service Leadership
(I am going to call this Magnolia Leadership – why? Because I’m a leader – and I can !!)
Willingness to bend for the benefit of others
Appreciating your followers
Asking them to share their thoughts, feelings, perspectives
Considering their feedback
Leading them where they want to go
In short, being willing to change with the times and the needs.
I so believe that service leadership is a more natural instinct of women than of men. I believe most women truly want to make a difference. (I also believe some just want to appear to do so.)
Woman, be true to yourself! If you are a natural-born leader, embrace what is intuitively yours. If you feel you were born to follow, appreciate yourself for helping others to become great leaders – it’s thanks to you that they can be.
Most importantly, be willing to change hats from time to time. Leadership is relative. You can be a great team-player at work and an awesome leader in the community. You can be a loyal supporter of a cause and still more than capable of leading another one.
As I write in the aftermath of “Sandy”, I have a view of my own yard. Many oaks still stand. When will they resist so much that they can resist no more? I see my beautiful Magnolia. Yes, she has given-up her multi-hued leaves, but just for a while. She will be back. She will bud and bloom and announce that springtime has arrived. She will lead us on to kinder, gentler days. She is, after all, a Magnolia.
Beware the might oak, for when they fall they can devastate.
Celebrate those who are still strengthening their roots and spreading their “wings”. Feed their needs and nurture their souls. For today’s followers may be tomorrow’s leaders, and the world needs both.
Be willing to lead. Be willing to follow. Be brave enough to do both.
So, IS it just me? What do you think, dear Magnolia?
Who do you follow; who do you lead?