We had gathered for our annual picnic in the park mostly to be together but also to traditionally share – in this month to remember our parent’s birthdays – our usual family lunchtime fare when as kids we were growing up: baloney sandwiches.
My brother, whose birthday is this week, chewed a simple self-portrait into his slice as we laughed at the remarkable likeness.
Simple as to design and yet stunning as to its effectiveness is this slice – this essential — of leadership that for the last 18 years my brother has carved into his legacy.
In a recent interview he was asked, after nearly two decades of coaching the youngest of kayakers, preparing them for national and international competition, why is he still out there on the water with these kids of but only 12 years old?
It’s what Jim Whittaker, the first American to climb Mount Everest, said when asked what had given him the most fulfillment as a mountain climber.
“‘I have helped more people get to the top of Mount Everest than any other person,’ he replied. ‘Taking people to the top who could never get there without my assistance is my greatest accomplishment.’” (“Leadership Gold”, by John C. Maxwell, p.5)
So said my brother.
“I just like encouraging kids to dream, and this gives them big dreams,” Alan Anderson said. “That’s why I keep doing it. I had so many adventures when I was young. The opportunity to share the adventurous spirit with young people… that’s why I do it.”
From the shared border of China and Nepal at Earth’s highest peak, to the Puget Sound waters of Gig Harbor at sea level, what it means to be a leader is the same: helping others to succeed, encouraging those who follow us to dream.
Happy birthday bro.