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Brute

The man is rhino
mere stench of him
inspires fear
clears the room

We cower, quietly
captivated little mice
terrified he’ll call us out
bullied into submission

But this status quo
bears no permanence
time and circumstances
will topple the power

And once writhing
on his backside, who
will venture to help
who will leave him be?

(Eugi’s Causerie Weekly Prompt is captivating.  I’ve altered the word to fit my purpose.  Image from personal collection.)

culture · life · poetry

Protocols for Leadership

Be compassionate when leading,
encourage community,
promote vision,
invite discussion

remember that pleasing
is not always possible
and that balance
calls for give and take

that needs are real
and genuine emotion
in times of personal grief
can be a catalyst for others

beware hidden agendas
when conducting business;
help young people find
their own secret gardens

never try to be all things
for all people, instead
lend an ear, a shoulder,
a hug – be a facilitator

all is doable, when ego
is willing to sidestep accolades
in favour of a shared responsiblity
and service to the whole.

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Day 217 “Leadership”

My father died on December 23rd and. because of the holiday, we were only able to post an obituary for one day before the funeral proceedings. It was a blustery Christmas that year, with the weather fluctuating between freezing rain and snow squalls, making driving a hazard. We had little expectation that anyone would come out for the service.

Surprisingly, many came, and we stood in line for hours greeting people, and listening to tales of our father. Friends I remembered from my childhood days appeared and fussed over how grown we all are, but many of the faces were unfamiliar. Regardless of the connection, the stories all expressed a common thread.

“If it wasn’t for your father,” one man told me, “I don’t know where I’d be today. Your father took me in at time when even I didn’t believe in myself. Hired me when he could have had a hundred other, younger, more experienced men.” I listened politely, as the man still clung to my hand. “I even asked him why me? You know what he said?” No, I shook my head, trying to picture my father even having this conversation. “He said I was a regular guy, down-to-earth; that people would relate to me. He said he couldn’t train the young whipper-snappers (definitely my dad’s words) to have what I had. I’ve been quite successful too, thanks to your dad.”

“Your father found me sleeping on a bench in the train station.” Another man told me. “I had hit rock bottom, didn’t know where to go next or how to carry on. I had one suit draped over the bench behind me. In your father came, grabbed up the suit in one hand, and literally pulled me off the bench. ‘Come on, Man!’ he said. ‘You’re too good for this. I’m getting you a job.’ He was my angel.” I knew this man. He’d been far more successful than my father in his life. I never knew about the role my father played.

“Your father always had a way of motivating us,” one man told me. “We were his team, but we were more than that. He made us feel important, like family. And he never asked us to do anything that he wouldn’t do himself. We felt respected.”

“He fired me once,” another man chuckled. “But you know, I deserved it. Told me to come back when I grew up and got my priorities right. I did, and we worked together again. I credit him with giving me the kick I needed. He never held a grudge, and neither did I.”

It was difficult through it all not to picture the tyrant that had ruled our household with terror for so many years, and yet, somewhere in the back of my mind, I had always seen this potential in my father.

He had been a great leader in his field, as witnessed on this stormy December day. The many who dared to come despite the weather gave us a wonderful gift that day – a new understanding of the man we called ‘father’, and a new purpose to our grieving.

I, personally, grieve that the type of leadership my father practiced in his working life seldom made it home where it was sorely needed.

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Day 174 Leadership

“Miss Perry, there seems to be a lot of arguing during recess time about who gets to use the Four Squares.  Some kids never get a chance”  I was tired of the constant bickering and sought a resolution.

“She’s being a tattle-tale!”  Lilly Mason was the ring-leader, always pushing others aside and making sure she and her friends dominated the game.

“Yeah, mind your business!”  Tommy Kilroy had nothing to worry about either:  he was popular too.

“Settle down, children.  Let Beth talk.”  The teacher was lounging in her chair as she often did, dipping a chocolate covered cookie into her steaming cup of tea.

“But it has nothing to do with our class!”  Lilly persisted. “Recess is our own time.”

“Fair enough,”  said Miss Perry, “but Beth is not given to complaining, so if she has something to say, it must be worth hearing.”

What?  She said that what I had to say had value?  No one had told me that before.  I chose my words carefully.

“Lilly, you and and your friends hog the Four Squares everyday, which doesn’t allow for anyone else to get a chance.  I’m not suggesting you can’t play, but can we find a way to include everyone?”

Lilly looked at Tommy, rolling her eyes in exasperation.  “I guess.”

“Wonderful!”  Miss Perry exclaimed, ignoring Lilly’s insolence.  “What do you propose Lilly?”

“Well I guess we put a time limit on each game, so my friends can play for half the recess, and Beth and her friends can play for the rest.”

“Does that satisfy the problem, Beth?”  Miss Perry looked at me, genuinely wanting my input.

“Only four people can play at a time, so that would still mean someone would be left out.”

“How many Four Squares are there?”

“Only one, and there’s nothing else to do,”  Tommy moaned.  “All the playground equipment is for the little kids.”

“Could they paint another one for us?”  I asked.  “Then more kids could play.  Or would they mind if we drew our own with chalk?”

“Now we are problem-solving,”  Miss Perry said smiling at me.  “How might we go about that?”

“I could ask the custodian,”  Tommy suggested.

“My father is friends with the principal,”  Lilly offered.

“Sounds like a good start,”  Miss Perry encouraged us.  “So how are you going to resolve the issue for today.”

“Could people sub in?”  I asked Lilly.  “When one person is out the next could step in.”

“Sure,”  Lilly shrugged.  “Don’t see why not.”

Miss Perry had a way of making each one of us feel valued.  She ignored our petty conflicts and consistently held us to a higher standard.  We were only nine years old, when Miss Perry became our teacher, but what she instilled in me has lasted a lifetime.  When I grew up, I wanted to be a teacher just like Miss Perry.

That is leadership.