Sacrifice and Service

by  Mike Henry  |  Leadership Development

On US Memorial Day, I’d like to take a minute again this year and thank the families of those who fell in service to our country.

In prosperous times, it’s tempting to think of leaders as those who make the most money, who are “in charge,” or who have the most authority.  The Lead Change Group stands for a model of leadership as influence.  Everyone is a leader to the degree they influence others.  Service to others is influential.  Leaders serve their sphere of influence.  If our goal is to expand our sphere of influence, we may or may not be successful.  But if we expand our service, our sphere of influence will grow. Those who paid the greatest sacrifice should influence every one of us.

We remember today those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.  The price is high because the freedom is valuable.  Many gave their lives in service to our present generation.  How should we respond?

  1. We must stop forcing our children to sacrifice for us.  Our US deficit is embarassing.  We must leave the world better than we found it.
  2. We must step up our willingness to sacrifice.  For me, that means making some hard decisions.  We must constantly examine ourselves with close friends who know us.  It’s too easy to rationalize ourselves out of sacrifice.
  3. We must live all out in service to others.  The death of soldiers doesn’t purchase freedom.  The effort of a people willing to die earned our freedom.  Sometimes we must sacrifice our comfort to pursue the dreams and opportunities purchased for us by those who came before us.

I am grateful for the sacrifice made by those who were wounded or died to pay for my freedom.  We have such wondeful resources paid by the lives of so many.  I hope my life passes along and justifies the sacrifices made for me.

Now I want to thank those who died by examining and, if necessary, changing the direction of my life.  How about you?  Would you share a comment honoring a sacrifice made for you?  What was sacrificed?  What is (or what will be) your response?  Let’s purpose to honor the sacrifice.


What’s Next? Please leave a comment below to join the conversation…

About The Author

Articles By mike-henry
Chief Instigator (Founder) of Lead Change Group and VP of IT for a mid sized technology company. Passionate about character-based leadership and making a positive difference.  »  View Profile

What People Are Saying

Lissa Millspaugh  |  31 May 2011  |  Reply

While I appreciate and celebrate the American military and their families, your question makes me think of a different kind of sacrifice, from which I’ve directly benefited….

Had it not been for the women in business who stood up for gender equality in the 60s and 70s, my life, and that of my children, would have been significantly diminished. These women were demeaned and demonized; subjected to harassment and accused of destroying the fabric of our society. In many cases, they were forced to choose between family and career.

I never had to make such a choice. I had the freedom to work hard and be judged on my own merits. I was permitted to be the primary financial support of my family, and never discriminated against due to my gender, thanks to the pioneers of the women’s movement, the legislators who championed their cause, and the everyday business people who recognized an injustice, and worked to overcome it.

I will honor this sacrifice by striving to create business environments that celebrate diversity. I was given a level playing field and will do all possible to ensure it’s availability to all colleagues, present and future. By being a leader who is color, gender, orientation blind, by being someone who builds meritocracies, I honor the sacrifices of the women who made this possible for me, and for my children.

Thanks for the thought exercise, Mike.

Mike Henry  |  31 May 2011  |  Reply

Lissa, thanks for helping me finish the thought. We all stand on the shoulders of those who went before us, for good or bad. Sometimes I’m tempted to whine about my circumstances and feel like a victim. I’ll take the good things, like an entitlement, provided by those who came before but I cry foul when confronted with solving a problem that was caused by those who came before. Thanks for the great comment. Mike…

Stephan De Villiers  |  31 May 2011  |  Reply

I like the way you discount the fact that those “who make the most money, who are “in charge,” or who have the most authority” is not necessarily the ideal Leadership model. I believe Leadership is exercised on an individual level as the small acts of ordinary people responding to the humanity in others. Leadership is not a concept but an action. It is getting involved where it is sometimes uncomfortable, thereby increasing your circle of influence of one person at a time.

Mike Henry  |  31 May 2011  |  Reply

Thanks for the comment Stephan. The “change” we talk about in leadership (hence the name “Lead Change”) is that leadership is not something you do; it is who you are. We act like a leader because we are one, not simply because we’re in the position of leadership. It’s hypocritical to behave like a leader on the outside; to go through the motions or to play the part because that’s what we’ve been assigned or that’s how we think we’re supposed to act. We want to be a leader on the inside (character-based) and that means we exercise leadership on an individual level just as you mentioned above. Thanks. Mike…

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