When a ship sails smoothly, everyone believes that she is the captain or that he is worthy to be a captain. But when the ship starts to sink or gets lost, the real captains surface.
When a ship is sinking, majority of the people will panic, a lot will get demoralized, a lot will huddle together and talk about impending doom. But there will be a few who will ask,
“What can I do to save this ship?”
They will not ask “Who will save me?” or “What are THEY doing to save the ship?”. They will take personal responsibility, and often personal sacrifice, to help right what ails the ship – in whatever way they can. These are the leaders.
The NBA finals just ended, and Andre Igodoula, became the first 6th man (i.e. someone coming off the bench) to win Finals MVP after leading his team to a championship. I still remember 4 years back when as the main man for the 8th seeded 76ers, he sank two free throws to defeat the 1st seed Bulls. This season though, he was asked to move to the bench – and it would have been easy to refuse because of his all-star background. But his coach explained how his sacrifice will make their team better. And when he agreed to make the sacrifice, he created a defining moment for their team.
If a proud veteran and team co-captain would be willing to sacrifice for the good of the team, then everybody else had no reason not to do everything that will make the team better. The sacrifice of one, when done for the good of others, moves a team from bad to good, or from good to great.It sets a tone that lifts team morale and creates a foundation that people can hold on to when things become shaky.
David became king when he sacrificed himself to take on Goliath. Martin Luther King sacrificed himself to create equality. Nelson Mandela sacrificed 27 years of his life in prison to create a free country. There is no big change without sacrifice. And there can be no sacrifice if there is no one willing to take personal leadership.
If you happen to be in an organization now that seems to be sinking, or at least, has lost its soul – then you are at a crossroad. You can either continue to be a spectator, or you can make the choice to be a leader. You can make the choice to be the one that lifts others up.
Make no mistake, you will need to make sacrifices. But the end will be worth it – and as people start understanding what you are trying to do, and see the sincerity by which you want to help, they will follow you, and when that happens, even the journey towards the end will become worth it. Go on…this is your moment…lead.