I’ve had a delightful week in the Carolina mountains. This is Travis’s neck of the woods, so it’s been an immersive experience through the roots and branches of my husband’s youth and young adulthood. We’ve been spending time with his friends and family who have now become my friends and family. These relationships, both new and decades-long, will continue to grow and evolve into everything we have yet to create together.
It’s savory as fried chicken with a biscuit, and sweet as sorghum molasses, y’all!
It has me thinking about the intersecting circles and knots of our wondrous lives, the countless ways we touch each other; how we’re forever changed by each encounter, and how we wouldn’t be the same without each other…
This seems pretty obvious when we think about our closest loved ones. But I think it also can prove just as true with everyone we meet, if we allow it and own it — opening our hearts to the miracle of every other soul, and at the same time taking responsibility for the indelible effect of our own being.
For me, this is the power and beauty of community: the way that individual and collective identities emerge naturally and effortlessly in the shared space of togetherness.
It happens in familiar networks of dear friends, and it can flow out of the most casual exchange with the nice lady selling apple butter at Granny’s Boiled Peanut Stand. We discover ourselves and each other over lifetimes, as well as in an instant. It’s in purposeful acts of grand design, and in unforeseeable happy coincidences.
I believe that this is also the essence of leadership — recognizing that who, what, and how we are makes a difference not just to ourselves but to each other.
John C. Maxwell said, “Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flowcharts. It is about one life influencing another.”
I like this quote a lot, especially if we consider “influence” not in terms of convincing, changing, or controlling, but simply touching. Leadership isn’t only about being the boss, steering the ship, or blazing the trail. It can include those aspects, of course. But at its core, to lead is just to remember that we matter, and to act like it. And shared leadership in our relationships and communities is a function of remembering that we all matter. Everyone’s contribution, perspective, and experience is vital to the whole.
Knowing ourselves as leaders, honoring our influence, can be either an empowering acknowledgment, or it can stir up unnecessary pressure and anxiety. I think the key to feeling mostly the former and a minimum of the latter is answering this call of Life as a “come-as-you-are” invitation — giving ourselves permission to bring to our relationships what we are genuinely feeling and thinking right now, and accepting that this is always the perfect ingredient for our unique stewpot.
In every community, in any gathering or situation, someone may be serving up hard-boiled cynicism and regret. Someone has questions and doubt to spare. Someone else has got overflowing buckets of hope and optimism. Maybe I’m a total wreck this week, and you’re on top of the world. Next week, we can switch it all up if we want. That’s what makes it work. That’s what creates a sense of belonging for everyone.
A touch of country, a touch of funk, maybe a little bit rock and roll… I can’t wait to be with you all this Sunday, October 27. XO, Drew
© 2019 Drew Groves