Giving Thanks for the Power of One (Person) (Conversation) (Example) …


Giving Thanks for the Power of One (Person) (Conversation) (Example) …

Why one person. One Comment. One example can change a life.


I’ve recently been reading a book titled Thriving in Leadership: Strategies for Making a Difference in Christian Higher Education. Although I no longer work for a university, I spent years doing so and loved (almost!) every bit of that journey. Regardless of the context, though, I’m finding this book to be inspiring with nugget after nugget of wisdom from seasoned leaders. And their advice is applicable to anyone — whether you work in higher education or in business.

I’m particularly inspired to write this morning as I think about Thanksgiving and all the things for which I’m grateful. So I find myself in front of my computer crafting this blog because I know that one of the things I’m so very thankful for is the role that one person, one comment, one action or even one chapter in a book has often played in my own life

Thriving in Leadership’s editor, Karen Longman, referenced in the introduction a quote from Roberta Hestenes, former president of Eastern University: “Leadership is the ability to make a difference through influencing others.”

And I think we’ve all seen this play out in our lives.


The difference one person makes.


I recently watched an interview with from The Black Eyed Peas in which he told Katie Couric about a teacher who had made a difference in his life. As he teared up, he noted that just one person can help change the trajectory of another person’s life. And that teacher helped change his.

It was a poignant moment. But just like, I’m betting that you’ve had someone in your life do the same for you. Someone whose encouragement gave you the confidence to take a chance. Someone who imparted wisdom to you that you’ve never forgotten. Or someone who simply modeled leadership for you in a positive way you hadn’t experienced before.


Closer to home.


My story isn’t any different. While working at a university several years ago, a woman named Chris was my boss. What Chris didn’t know was that as an introvert and a woman, I had always struggled with the term “leader.” This was probably because many people associate leadership with someone who has a take charge, outgoing, “type A” kind-of-attitude. Someone who just makes things happen (sometimes regardless of what or who gets in the way). And I actually think our society perpetuates that to its detriment (which is a topic for another blog). But regardless, this stereotype loomed large in my mind.

But Chris was different. She was calm and cool, even somewhat soft-spoken. She wasn’t loud and didn’t purposefully draw attention to herself. But she had steel in her eyes. And she was smart. And tough. She expected excellence. And I learned never to go into a meeting with her unprepared. But I also knew that behind those eyes of steel was a woman who cared about  people and who always wanted to do the right thing as a leader.

She didn’t know it at the time, but I watched her carefully. I watched the hard-earned respect she had gained as the only high-ranking woman on campus. I listened as others talked about her with admiration, respect and confidence. She was the first woman leader I can remember knowing who I wanted to emulate.

Chris was only at the university my first year there, but that year changed my life. In that time, she modeled leadership in a way I hadn’t experienced before. And it gave me the confidence to learn and grow as a leader in my own right.

I’m so grateful to have been able to learn from a leader who influenced others in such a positive way. And my hope is that I’ll have the honor of paying it forward to a new generation of women leaders.


What about you?


I’d love to hear from you. Has there been a person in your life who’s made a difference or helped change your life trajectory? How are you paying it forward?

If you’re looking for great nuggets of wisdom to help you on your own journey as a leader, check out Thriving in Leadership – it’s definitely worth the read!



Leave a Reply