I am pretty blessed with great kids. It especially makes me proud when another parent tells me something really cool that one of my kids has done. Here is a typical scenario.
My oldest daughter is a sophomore pole vaulter. There really aren’t many high school girls that pole vault. There was a freshman girl that decided to pole vault for this current season. She was having an okay year, but was getting discouraged and a little down on herself.
I was attending a meet recently when the other girl’s parents told me that my daughter had written her a note. In that note, my daughter told the girl to keep trying, that she would make it through the rough patch, and that she believed in her. You know what happened? This girl pole vaulted one foot higher than she normally does. Not only that, but my daughter broke her own school record at the same meet.
We saw a similar situation at this year’s Boston Marathon. The conditions were brutal- temperatures were in the 30’s and it was windy and rained the entire race. At one point, Desiree Linden made the decision to slow down and wait for her fellow American competitor, Shalane Flanagan who had decided to make a bathroom stop. The goal was to help her get back into the lead group. The strategy worked- Desi ultimately won the race.
I was intrigued by this phenomenon, so I did a little research. I found a great article by Vijoy Rao in a digital magazine called The Ascent. A snippet from the article is as follows (the psychology minor in me loves this stuff):
“That’s when sports psychologists everywhere started chirping about the physical and chemical benefits of sportsmanship. Turns out that when you help someone, your brain releases chemicals (endorphins, dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, to be specific) that all help increase focus, mood, and motivation, while also reducing pain.”
In a meeting this morning, a friend was telling me about the “toxic” environment in which she works—no one shares information and they do everything they can to save their jobs. I wonder how the environment, employee production, and overall company morale would change if the culture was one of teamwork and helping others?
How are we doing as leaders in our organizations? Are we helping to develop our staff into the best form of themselves that we can? OR are we merely barking orders from the corner office?
I have a great friend who I really respect as a leader. He is very passionate about servant leadership. If you’re not familiar with the phrase, here’s the Wikipedia definition: “. . . the servant-leader shares power, puts the needs of others first, and helps people develop and perform as highly as possible.”
I believe that Vijoy Rao was referring to this type of Servant Leadership and I completely agree with what Vijoy Rao said in his article:
“This is what a leader is — someone who sees that if everyone gets better, then everyone can continue to keep getting better. Someone who has the rock-solid confidence needed to help those around them improve, instead of just being concerned with how they stand out from the group. Someone who has the vision, insight, and love for the field to know that being the best of a mediocre group is worth nothing.”
I took the liberty of editing Vijoy’s copy to make it a little more G-rated. However, the point remains the same.
There is power in helping others. And when you tap into that power, you’re not just helping other people. You’re helping yourself, as well.