This is not intended to be a feel-good story. This is a story about leadership and its core meaning. At least its core meaning as I see it.
I have a friend who has volunteered his time to help people through the ongoing tragedy in Houston, TX. Let me re-state this. I have a friend who has volunteered his time to save lives in Houston, TX. In a few days’ time, he participated in nearly 70 rescues of people and families praying for someone just like him to arrive on the scene and save them. My friend works in finance. He is not a police officer, National Guardsman, or any other functioning arm of the government. He had to halt his rescue efforts to evacuate his own family to safety. He is now planning to head back into the breach to continue to help others.
I check in with him regularly because I love him, want to make sure he’s safe, and am in awe of his selflessness and courage. I have not had time to hear details of the lives he’s saved. I do, however, know a few details. My friend did not know the political persuasion of anybody he rescued, nor did he ask. He did not know the religious beliefs of anybody he rescued, nor did ask. He did not prioritize his efforts based on peoples’ skin color. He did not know the financial or social status of anybody he rescued, nor did he ask. In sum, my friend rescued Republicans and Democrats, rich people and poor people, Jews, Christians, Muslims, and people of all imaginable colors.
Given the state of our country, it is nearly a statistical fact that he vehemently disagreed with the political, social, or economic views of at least half the people he rescued. This does not mean, however, that he now endorses all the views of the people he rescued, nor should he. It does not mean the people he rescued endorse all his views simply because he helped them, nor should they. And this is the point. My friend exhibited the most fundamental form of leadership as I see it: leadership means putting others first, period.
I hope our elected officials and others take heed of people like my friend and reflect on their own leadership. It is possible to agree with someone on an issue without fully endorsing every other fiber of their being. It is possible to help someone you disagree with without compromising everything you stand for. Leaders put the well-being of others first, period.
Without a leadership culture, you will either become stagnant or irrelevant. It appears Houston, TX will not become stagnant or irrelevant any time soon thanks to people like my dear friend.
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