In our culture, we pay homage to those who are “The First.” George Washington, the first president of the United States. Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon. Diana Nyad, at 64, swam over 110 miles without a cage (from Cuba to Florida).
This reminds me of Roger Bannister. He was the first to run the mile in less than 4 minutes. Prior to this achievement it was believed that it was not possible for a human to run the mile that fast. In 1954, he ran the mile in 3:59 minutes. Given the perceived impossibility, one might think this was an anomaly and would never happen again.
But something very strange happened.
Since his accomplishment, multiple individuals has since broken the “four-minute-barrier.”
Perhaps this story sheds some insight into why we pay difference to “The First.”
Henry Ford said,
When something hasn’t been done, it is sometimes perceived as “not able to be done.” Those who have the courage to believe they can and DO, gives the rest of us permission to dream bigger, strive more, and reach higher.
There is one such person in my family. She was the first of her siblings to earn a college degree. She received a law degree from Creighton University Law School in Omaha Nebraska. And even after a successful and accomplished career, went back and earned a second terminal degree and severed many years as a Methodist Minister and Pastor.
Her example while growing up, gave me permission to dream bigger, strive more, and reach higher. I asked Dr. Taylor-Thirus.
Below is a list that includes some of the critical skills Dr. Taylor-Thirus learned personally, and from others, required for leadership.
“In leadership, you have to do a lot of exploring. You must have a curious nature. You can’t be satisfied with what you see in the moment. You have to be really curious, willing to explore, and think outside of the box.”
“You also must prepare. Even if you are gifted by God, you still have to practice and prepare.”
“You have to have some means to be inspiration. Whether it is church, reading quotes, or meditation. You have to refill. I can’t be filled today and have it last until next week. It is on a continual basis.”
“You must have determination. People asked me “How did you do that?” I respond, “ you just have to keep going.” Anybody can do the things I’ve done if they just keep going.
I remember when I went to law school – I called it my 1,000-day journey because it was three years. I counted off the days. Sometimes it’s not about talent or skills but it is stick-to-it-iveness and determination.“
“You first have to know yourself. Learn to communicate with yourself, learn to listen to yourself, and then learn to communicate with others. Be a listener. That is very important.
I am reminded of the saying, ‘you have two ears and one mouth for a reason, so you can listen twice as much.’”
“You also need to be influential. And that means that if people don’t admire you, they aren’t going to follow you. You have to realize that to be a leader you have to influence people. And to influence people, they have to respect you more than just a paycheck. If it’s just a paycheck, they are going to undermine you.”
“Compassion is also very necessary. It allows you to be able to feel what the people around you feel.”
“Another important leadership skill is delegation. Delegating is the way I can get more out of the person, or the people who are working with me; to encourage them to feel that I have confidence in them and for them to go on and to be as much as they can be.”
“And, of course, you need passion. If you don’t like something, then don’t come, just don’t show up. You might be able to skim by for a while, but after a while it’s just going to blow up in your face.”
“Lastly, to lead, you must know how to follow and be willing to follow. You must walk in the shoes of the people you will be leading, to understand their world needs. You must develop the attitude of being the best you can be early in life in whatever profession or job you are in. The skills and characteristics needed for leadership must be developed before becoming a leader.”
I am grateful to Dr. Francine Taylor-Thrius for the time she so graciously gave me to interview her for this article.
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