This was not by accident. None of it. When we arrived at Davis Park in September, we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know who we would meet and we certainly didn’t know we were in for a game of memory in the big full circle outside, running to make sure the golf ball didn’t hit the ground, sitting on each other’s laps or that we would be blindfolded and asked to trust a classmate we barely knew. But something amazing happened that day, too. We began to share our lives. Some of us shared about our families, being hit by a truck, the day we first became parents, a time when were most vulnerable or that we were still grieving the loss of a loved one. We didn’t know each other; but, in those moments, the quiet and reflective spaces…we became a family.
Through exploration of our learning styles we all have come to realize tha, while we may be different, we all still need each other. Whether you’re a 3, 2, 1 or 4 (the best)…we don’t succeed alone. We each play an integral part of getting the job done. And that’s what Leadership Academy has taught me. Through collaboration and bringing together of different ideas and perspectives…ANYTHING is possible. Ii don’t believe for a second that his was by coincidence. I believe that I was meant to know Nick, a fellow middle child, who is beyond his years with wisdom and intelligence or his cohort, Libby – who gives every day of her life to pouring into women who need a positive and safe home environment. Watching Monique’s smile light up a room when she talks about her family and children. Admiring how Dianna balances a successful career and being a full time mommy, enjoying Pete’s sense of humor, and observing the quiet strength of Mark Elliott, Mar Adams and Laura Rose. Many didn’t know that even last night I got news that my dad was admitted to the hospital and is undergoing testing even as I speak. But I found comfort with my classmates, Heather, Jesse and Rob. You all have no idea how you kept me afloat when I thought my world was sinking. Thank you.
We were selected to complete the course and while we may have been apprehensive at first I now that we will all walk away with a keen sense of direction for the future. We’re leaders and Madison County is counting on us to Grow.Serve.Lead. As graduates, we must always pay attention, get excited and NEVER quit. Pay attention to the community we’re serving. Get excited about the growth that we’re experiencing. We’ve been called out of our comfort zones so let’s stop worrying about what could go wrong and get excited about what can go right! Let’s get good at something worth getting good at – servant leadership! Never quit learning the stories that make us all unique and yet so similar. The lesson that I will take with me forever is that you simply cannot hate someone whose story you know.
We’ve shared our stories. Some more than others. We have laughed, cried, brainstormed, built the tallest pasta towers I’ve ever seen and most of all, we had fun. We’ve learned how to lead and collaborate. I hope to continue learning your stories and many others. That’s how effective leadership emerges. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. It’s time to get to work. Class of 2017, our stories are far from over and while this may be our commencement, we’re just getting started! So pay attention, get excited and NEVER QUIT. I’m counting on you, Madison County is counting on you. We have work to do!
Grow. Serve. Lead.