Years ago, I had a freelance job writing for an e-zine published by a well-known leadership expert. I enjoyed the work, but as I wrote book reviews, interviewed authors and scoured other publications for leadership trends and quotes, I’d often wonder: Why am I doing this, really? Is it simply for the paycheck (which certainly is helpful and appreciated)? Or am I doing all this writing about leadership for some future purpose?
At the time, I couldn’t imagine what that purpose might be. My professional experience didn’t point to some upcoming leadership role of my own, nor did my interests. I have always been more of a freelancer than a team player; in fact, when leadership opportunities come up, I tend to run in the other direction.
Still, my conviction that everything in life prepares us for something else—that in God’s economy, nothing we go through is ever wasted—kept these thoughts alive, at least in the back of my mind.
Then Lilly was a pumpkin in her ballet school’s production of Cinderella, and I started to catch a glimpse of the reason behind all that work.
All the three- to five-year-old girls in the Creative Movement class looked absolutely precious as they danced around on the stage to the tune of “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.” But Lilly didn’t just look adorable. She was the picture of intensity.
She wasn’t there simply to do her part, you see. She somehow felt it was her responsibility to make sure everyone else did theirs, too. So in the video, you see her frantically gesturing and motioning and trying to move all the other little pumpkins along. (Apparently, it’s difficult to smile when you are busy directing traffic and trying to keep your leaf hat on at the same time.)
This performance was the first in a long line of occasions when Randy and I have had the opportunity to watch Lilly’s leadership skills in action. I’ll write more about this later, but for now, I think it’s enough to say we have a leader on our hands. Not a child with leadership potential, but a bona fide leader girl who understands more about getting people to do what they’re supposed to do than many adults I know.
Some of my past reading and writing about leadership has come in handy as I contemplate the best ways to nurture daughters who are leaders. But I often feel less than prepared to carry out this important assignment. How exactly does a mom proceed when she has actually heard her daughter say that she wishes she could go back to China (where she was born) and become president so she could do away with the one-child policy there?
That kind of drive is not caught or taught, folks. It’s wired in, no two ways about it.
I’m not sure what to do, so I start with Amazon.com. Specifically, I’m hoping to find a book about how to help my daughters become the leaders God has designed them to be.
So far, I haven’t found what I’m looking for. Oh, there are books about how to develop leadership in children, but most of them are written by coaches and are not specifically about girls. Books on purity are helpful, but not for this discussion. I’m also not interested in resources that use princess analogies or are mostly about self-esteem or preventing bullying.
I think what it boils down to is this. I wish I could pick the brains of parents with grown daughters in positions of leadership. I want to know what, if anything, these moms and dads did to cultivate those gifts. Did they know when their girls were little that they were destined to be leaders? What did that look like?
Maybe I’m the only mom with a leader daughter who is a bit unsure of how to prepare her for a life of influence. But something tells me other mothers have similar concerns, which is why I’m going to close this post with a rare request for specific feedback.
• Are you a mom of daughters who wonders about the best way to encourage their obvious leadership skills? Have you read any good books about the subject, or are you as hungry as I am for thoughtful counsel about how to do this well?
• If you are a woman who leads (in any capacity), how did your parents help you become the leader you are now? What do you wish they had done?
• And finally, if you are a parent with grown daughters who lead, do you have any words of wisdom for those of us who are following in your footsteps?
If any of these questions resonate with you, please slip me a comment or, if you prefer, use the “contact” section to email me privately.
Thanks, and stay tuned. You haven’t heard the last about this subject from me. (Although I suspect you already knew that.)
P.S. Go Royals!!!