Do you know who your future leaders are? Let me help you identify them.
I recently came across an amazing post in LinkedIn. A mom was kvelling about her son Charlie. (I realize you may not speak Yiddish but if you can’t tell from the sound what kvelling is you probably didn’t have a mom). She was/is so proud because, at the age of 19, he just published his first book. As remarkable as a 19-year-old publishing a book may be, it is not the remarkable part of this story, it’s the reason he wrote the book that caught my attention.
At 16, Charlie was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. He endured 2 brain surgeries and a brutal regiment of chemo and radiation therapy. I can’t imagine what that must have been like. I can only imagine the frustration of missing out on the major events of someone in high school. This is where this story gets interesting for me.
He discovered, in his mother’s words, “a desire to give other children, who are battling cancer, comfort and hope.” This is the time when most young men start to discover who they are and I would say he certainly discovered who he is. He spent the next several years researching, writing, and ultimately publishing his book.
Charlie could have allowed his illness to define him, as so many do. He could have sat back, asked for special privileges, and played the victim card. He could have railed at the world, at how unjust and unfair it is that he had to go through everything. We see it all the time. People on disability from an injury who refuse to find another way to contribute. He rejected that path, instead, he chose to define himself, to rise above his circumstances, and he refused to bend to the expedient path.
Who are the future leaders in your business? The ones that don’t blink at the lousy assignments and attack them like they’re their favorite activity…the ones that learn lessons from things that don’t happen right…the ones that magically turn bad luck into good fortune…the ones like Charlie.
The ability to harness the energy of a powerful, emotionally-charged experience and tranform it into something positive, affirming, and uplifting is a gift some are born with, a skill others can develop, and essential in all leaders. We have a tendency to choose our future leaders based on how well they are doing their current jobs. However, that should just be the starting point. Look at how well they treat others, how they react to adversity, or if they reframe adversity into opportunity. Your future leaders are not always the person who is doing their current job the best. They are the ones that inspire others to be their best. They look at each situation as a blessing and strive to find a way to learn and grow from them.
I doubt I will ever find out how Charlie’s story unfolds. He is the son of a woman I’ve never met and only exchanged a few words with on LinkedIn (to get permission to tell this story), yet I have no doubt his journey will be exciting, interesting, and immensely rewarding to him and those he comes in contact with.
If you know anyone who might benefit from his story in full, I urge you to support him and get them his book. You can find it here on Amazon.