What is your leadership impact?

Okay, so today…Monday.

Most weekdays, my alarm sounds at 5:10 AM and then, most times I hit snooze to give me 10 minutes to wake up because I don’t like to just get out of bed as soon as I awake. I have been doing the ‘ease me into the morning’ kind of snooze control for well over a decade, possibly closer to two. My husband says he doesn’t understand it, but it is as much of a routine as he has with arising and walking the dog. It is my system to get my day going.

Today was no different, except that I had to leave my home by 8:30 to get to the airport on time for my flight at noon. I live over 200km away from the international airport, so with parking, security and customs I need a good 2.5 hours to get there and be comfortable.

As planned I left my home at 8:20, grabbed a coffee, and departed for the airport. At about 9 o’clock AM I wondered where my phone was, which followed with a short burst of panic when I realized that my phone with all of my travel information, including boarding pass, hotel details, meeting details etcetera, was lying on my bed – at my house, not in my vehicle. And my house was a good 30 minutes behind me. I had to make a quick decision, go back and risk not making the flight? Continue on and see if I could survive the following four days without my phone. I chose the first option.

I drove fast, sometimes very fast, knowing that I was taking a very big risk by going back. But I committed to my decision. I knew it could put me an hour behind. But I took the chance…I arrived home at 9:30, retrieved my phone and headed back out for my 200+km drive. To say I was focused might have been an understatement. I said a prayer and got to driving.

Luckily I had already checked in for my flight and was not checking luggage. If I hadn’t done either I would not have made my flight. I drove fast, but not as fast as I had heading home. I prayed for no police, no storms…and then Iooked at my gas gauge and realized that my impromptu trip back home for and back had eaten away at my gas. Fact: I did not have enough gas to make it to my destination. I would have to stop; the question was, where and when? 

As I did the math of when I could potentially arrive, when boarding started and ended and where I would stop for gas I was reminded of the many conversations I have had with our 13 year old about how you use math everyday. Today was no different.

I chose to stop at a gas station that had only one vehicle at it, I grabbed 20 bucks from my wallet, parked, pumped, ran inside, threw the money on the counter and hollered ‘thanks!’ as I quickly exited the building. I jumped back in, and took off again. This cost me five minutes.

I knew that if I could make it to the airport by 11:30 AM I might have a shot. Through construction, reduced speeds, traffic and slow drivers I negotiated my way to the airport, and I kid you not, arriving at 11:31 AM.

I literally jumped from my vehicle, grabbed my luggage, ran into the airport, the elevator was just opening and it was going up! I needed to go up, so I moved into the elevator and the doors just about shut when a child came around the corner and just stared at us. Now, I was inclined to let the doors close. Right or wrong, she did not look as panicked as I felt. But the gentleman in the elevator with me had a different approach. So he held the doors, then not one adult, but five adults appearing very relaxed sauntered onto the elevator. And then…we went down. What?! Yes, someone, although after my gasp of ‘we’re going down!’ no one was going to admit, had pushed the down button. And down we went, to level 1, collected people on that level and then up to my beloved level 3.

Out the elevator, across the skyway dragging my luggage, my backpack, my purse, my car keys, my credit card…into security and…I was the only person in line. Victory was almost mine! But alas, no, I was pulled for a random check. Defeat? Not quite yet.

The security team could see my distress, I’m assuming it was obvious as I motored around agreeing quickly to whatever they said I had to do, then into customs, out of customs, into the terminal, finding my gate and painfully asked the gate attendant to let me use the bathroom before I boarded. She said no, the gate was closing, I was literally the last person on board and they closed the gate behind me. I boarded, shoved my purse into my backpack, threw my stuff on my seat and promptly headed to the on board washroom. Relief. I took my seat, put on my seat belt, took off my jacket, turned on the overhead air and checked my watch. It was 11:51 AM. We were in the air 15 minutes later.

As I was driving to get to the airport I was thinking about when I arrived at the Calgary airport in the early 90’s to check in with the attendant, that was way before we had anything electronic. When I arrived at the counter, the attendant looked a bit dumbfounded and asked me if I realized that my flight was leaving in 2 minutes. Oddly enough, I hadn’t realized that. I did make that flight, but I knew that circumstance would never occur today, not with all the security measures. And I had moments when I thought I had lost.

But here is what’s interesting; last week I attended the Canadian Association of Coaches annual Sport Leadership Conference, which was outstanding by the way. And some of the keynotes had touched on hitting snooze, being focused, driven, deliberate, diligent and relentless. One even talked about the Women’s gold medal hockey game at the Sochi Olympics in 2014, where the Canadian women were down 2-0 against the US with three minutes remaining. They tied it up in that last three minutes, and then went on to win in overtime. It is by far, one of my favourite moments in Olympic sport, and in Canadian athletic history. Those conference speakers were in my head, all along that drive this morning – all of them echoing in my head, all of them helping me with this mission. 

I am not a fan of giving up.
I believe the human spirit is built to be resilient – to be triumphant.

Those leaders in sport who gave keynote speeches have no idea that their words resonated with me so strongly that it carried me through a challenge two days later. They don’t know that their ability to communicate their own mistakes, issues, challenges, successes, and perspectives are the very things that fed my decision to take a risk.

So I ask you, all of you reading this today, how can you affect someone in such a positive way that it makes them want to try, or try harder? What can you do to be better so they can be better? Are you conveying your own triumph to inspire? Your own challenge to teach? How can your experiences prove motivational? How can you leave them better than you found them?

Leadership is about impact. It’s about what people remember after you stop talking. It is about what you have left for them to take away. What impact are you having? How do those around you feel when you enter a room, or when you leave a room? What can you do to make a bigger or broader impact?

I am comfortably located in row 8; seat c. It is safe to say that all the leaders who spoke such truth last week helped me make my risky decision, manage my stress, stay focused, and ultimately be successful. And they have no idea…or maybe they do.

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