A pragmatic perspective on Leadership, Community and Play
In every field I’ve worked, the best leaders work alongside you and embrace the team as a family unit. With ease they play to our strengths and improve our weaknesses. Leaders keep an open mind, they bend and they sway.
Leaders have cleaned piss and shit stained bathrooms with me, they’ve paid me out of pocket to mop up ruthless vomit and they’ve picked up bloody pads hidden behind gym bleachers.
The best leaders have protected me from enraged customers bent on “taking care of us all.” When a group of confused and drug induced adults showed up for free hot dogs we fed them and encouraged them to leave. Together we learned not to hand out flyers for a youth-development open house that said, “Free Food.” Leaders are best observed in their natural work environment and learning from them should be held in high regard.
Those who shun these leaders aren’t concerned about their job, the team, or their individual growth. I do my best to discourage their dissent and instead embrace a positive attitude. Leaders aren’t perfect and we shouldn’t expect them to be. As a team or as an individual it’s our responsibility to support them too. A strong team can make beautiful and memorable communities grow.
I’m 27 years old and when I was younger I thought I could change my community at a global scale, which is still possible but unlikely. This isn’t pessimistic either because acknowledging it has given way to optimism. Community is best initiated and impacted at a local level. Investing in my food co-op and spending time at the farmers market creates comfort and happiness. I can’t even invest much money due to the higher food costs, but we’ve budgeted and I’ve realized that many items, if bought locally, cost the same as items bought at larger chains. Everyone benefits from the process.
Community or lack of community has played varying roles in my life since I was 11. The first time I helped others was in the Junior Optimists Club and we set up an Easter egg hunt for the city. As of last year you would’ve found me teaching kids and engaging them in high yield learning activates. I did everything from handling reptiles to helping parents with rambunctious birthday parties. Today you may find me helping friends and family with website problems. My level of happiness is directly associated by how active and involved I am in my community.
Communities rise, fall, shift and evolve in a myriad of ways and if you can contribute something positive to your community the world will be a better place.
Right now play is what is lacking in my life and what was a large part of my life until a year and a half ago. It stopped when I got an internship (now job) building websites. Learning was necessary for me to grow both with the company and for myself. The majority of my free time is spent coding, designing, researching and practicing.
I need to reintroduce play immediately. I’ve gained 40lbs, lost energy, creativity and the appreciation of the little things. Writing this is conjuring memories and invoking spirit. Under great leadership, community and play I’ve accomplished beautiful, subtle and mysterious things.
One of my favorite stories is this:
Halloween is important to me. It’s magical. One member of our team firmly discouraged celebrating it and instead of returning judgment I instead fixated on a solution. We organized our faux Halloween and kids between the ages of 6 and 18 got together outside to watch the film Coraline in 3D. We projected it on bed sheets we had sewn together and suspended them from the side of the building. We had enough 3D glasses for everyone, drank hot chocolate, ate bratwursts and made s’mores. All was right in the world.
The pragmatic perspective is subjective, but I believe in leadership, community and play and its ability to make a positive impact in our lives and others.