Baby Steps

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I’m a terrible parent.

There, I’ve said it. I’ve felt this way for a while, but it feels nice to be able to say it.

When our first child was still an infant, I distinctly remember a conversation with my wife. As our daughter was learning to take her first steps, I mourned the mobility that was looming ahead. Gone were the days of her being only where we led her. Coming soon were the days where we had to chase and keep up with her. And boy did those days come.

Granted, this conversation was tongue in cheek, but the sentiment was there. Those first few steps marked the end of an era.

Developing student leaders is a similar experience. As we teach students to influence a room, we are teaching them to take baby steps. There are times they are more than capable of accomplishing a goal by themselves, but they lean on our experience or expertise.

Sometimes these baby steps, however, are a little more difficult. And that’s okay. Everyone has to struggle at first. The things that come second nature to us, like including people in our projects, are an appropriately larger chore for a student who is just experiencing leadership.

The problem comes, however, when they never learn to walk on their own. Our leadership reaches the maximum potential when those around us discover their maximum potential.

One word from my current experience. As I’m teaching a new group of student leaders and trying to help them exert their influence, we are missing a key element. We have not had a chance for me to teach them the 3 questions, and I’m feeling it.

In case you’re not familiar, the three questions (for which this blog is named), serve as a framework to help students (and adults) look for and pursue opportunities to influence the room. The questions don’t make someone a leader, but they serve as a great place to start raising awareness of leadership opportunities. Check them out here. It’s always good to be reminded.

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