Pass It On: The Imperative to Lead

We get off the plane in Chicago, my daughters and I, enroute to South Carolina. With a 3 hour layover ahead of us, we take our time. We check the monitors for our connecting gate: A 11. I look up: we stand at gate B-15.

It's a long walk through Midway airport, past all the B gates, past the shops, through the center food courts, past more shops, into the A gates, all the way to gate 11. We have plenty of time, so we stop to browse a few shops. We stand still on the moving sidewalks while people rush past. About halfway to the gate, the kids start to whine and I remind them that we aren't going to complain; we're almost there.

But when we get to the gate, the sign indicates a different flight number, a destination that is not ours.

We stand in line for a few minutes to find out where we need to go. The girls are fidgety.

It's finally my turn. I look at the man behind the desk and smile.

"Hi, Saul," I say.

I hand over our boarding passes. "Your flight," he tells me, "is at gate B-19."

"I checked the monitors," I tell him.

"Oh, well, we don't have control over those," he says. "They're owned by the city of Chicago. They are often wrong. Sorry."

"Really?" I say. "We walked all the way over here and now we have to walk all the way back?"

I feel impatient and a bit baffled.

"You know," Saul says, "Someone should really do something about that. This happens all the time."

"Is there something YOU can do?" I ask him.

"I will. I've been meaning to." We exchange a few more words and I can see a spark in Saul's eye. He intends to do something about this.

I reach for the green wristband on my arm. I wear one all the time: it says "I am remarkable!"

I reach across the desk and I hand it to Saul. I tell him "Saul, you are remarkable! You can make a difference."

He slides the bracelet onto his wrist and I hope it will remind him that he CAN make a difference.

Instead of saying "Sorry, I can't do anything about this," he can ask questions, look for solutions. He can be the one to instigate change, to suggest new procedures or policies.

I take a deep breath. I reach into my bag and pull out a new wristband, slide it onto my left arm.

I turn to the girls. "Let's go, girls. Our flight is back at B-19." They're not happy about retracing our steps but we make it to our gate in plenty of time.

As we walk, I think about the first words Saul said to me "We don't control that."

So often, we accept things as they are, even when the way things are is not ideal.

What if, instead, we looked for ways to make a difference?

What if we made a commitment to be the ones to instigate change? The ones to look for solutions where none have been found before?

What if we could inspire others to lead where they are, our questions or example nudging others to action (the way I nudged Saul)?

What if we could pass on the imperative to lead,seamlessly, as I passed my green wristband?

What would it take? Where do we start?