By Suzanne Bates, CEO
Back in elementary school, my second grade teacher Mrs. Sharp invited our class to bring things important to us for Show and Tell. I knew immediately that my choice would be my prized collection of rocks, unearthed from the backyard digging hole my parents allowed my brothers and I behind a fence next to the patio. (Today, I collect postcards from my travels, which of course would have been a lot more convenient to transport, but back then I hadn't been beyond Central Illinois.) Anyway, in second grade, rocks were pretty cool.
It probably should have occurred to me the morning of Show and Tell that this box of rocks would be clumsy and potentially backbreaking to carry. I lived about three quarters of a mile from school. Back in those days, kids walked to school, rain, sleet, snow or shine, whether it was 100 degrees or below zero. Moms didn't stand at the ready to hop into the SUV to get you there in time for the first bell. And since I was the oldest of four, I'm pretty sure by then she didn't even see me leave that day. She was busy with a newborn. If my brothers had been old enough to follow me to school, they probably would have refused to help me carry them and told me the rocks were in my head.
Off I went, excited to show off to my classroom buddies. I couldn't wait to see the looks on their faces when I held up the ones with a little bit of sparkle or marbling inside. My enthusiasm waned only slightly as I heaved along with the box. It banged against my legs at every step; I had to stop and rest about every 200 feet, setting it on the neighbor's step, then on a little hill on the side of a lawn. By the time the front door of the school was in view the darn thing felt like it weighed 500 pounds. My shoulders, back, neck and biceps were aching.
But I made it. All by myself.
I remember nothing about Show and Tell that day. Absolutely no recollection of standing up to talk about rocks or the wide eyed looks from my friends. What I remember is the journey. It was hard. But I did it. I was strong.
In leadership, I think its okay to be a little bit like our moms way back in the day. It really is a good thing to let people struggle through things a little bit. It's how we get the hang of it. How else are you going to learn what you are capable of doing? If you act like the moms of today, you rob people of the chance to flex those biceps.