Mrs. Boyer was my 7th grade Home Economics teacher. Prior to taking her class, I remember everyone telling me how they would goof off when Mrs. Boyer wasn’t looking. I heard tales of food fights, hiding sewing machines, setting the clocks twenty minutes fast, spit ball battles, etc. I was stoked to do the same. After all, my 7th grade class would be Mrs. Boyer’s last. She was getting ready to retire and everyone thought she had checked out for the year.
Mrs. Boyer was a whopping 4 feet 10 inches tall, but after a few weeks in her class, I soon realized the old lady packed a punch similar to that of a male teacher who stood 6 feet 2 inches tall. Although she was small in stature, Mrs. Boyer was feisty. It was her “feistiness” that made me realize the potential I had as a leader, even in 7th grade. Up to that point in my life, I was clueless to the fact that my peers and fellow students may actually have been watching and following my lead. No one had ever told me I was a leader prior to my conversation with Mrs. Boyer in the hallway.
I don’t remember exactly what I did to cause her feistiness to come out, but I do remember doing something she had asked me not to do…imagine that. As I walked out into the hallway to be reprimanded, the sweet, old lady got right into my face. She went off on me. It was a 5-minute verbal rampage that changed my life…forever.
During that 5-minute ordeal, Mrs. Boyer looked me in the eyes and helped me realize that I was a leader. I can vividly remember her saying, “Your peers look up to you. They watch you and want to be like you. When you’re respectful, they’re respectful. When you act like a little snot, they act like little snots. Now, start showing some maturity and start being the leader you have the potential to be.” Mrs. Boyer taught me a lot in 5 minutes. She talked to me about how leaders are people who are honest with themselves and others. She made me realize that God had given me the gift to connect intimately with my peers and that it was a rare trait for people to have. She reminded me of how involved I was with athletics, student council, and tutoring. Her rant ended when she looked at me and said, “You have the ability to be effective at thirteen years old. When you’re ready to grow up and accept the gifts God has given you, then you can come back in my classroom.” I stood there speechless.
As we follow this month’s theme of “Open,” I want to focus on leadership. Fifteen years ago, Mrs. Boyer helped me realize that a leader is someone who is honest, involved, able to connect with others intimately, and effective in getting others to buy into what they’re doing. It wasn’t until I sat down to write this blog that I realized the extent of Mrs. Boyer’s leadership in my life. She could have done the easy thing by giving me a detention that day, however, she chose to go one step further. She chose to do something that all great leaders are willing to do. She was willing to take a risk by being open and real, nonetheless, with a thirteen-year-old punk.
Being open as leaders requires each of us to take a risk like Mrs. Boyer did. It requires us to do and say the tough things. It requires sacrifice, commitment, discipline, determination, and dedication. Being open is often unpopular, however, it is necessary in order to change and impact the lives of those around us.
My challenge to each of you is to evaluate your own life. Many of us think we are effective leaders, yet we choose to hide a certain part of us. We choose to tuck away an experience or situation that binds us up and keeps us from ever reaching our full potential as leaders. A true leader will take a risk by getting that situation or experience into the open. They will make a sacrifice and will be committed to being disciplined in doing whatever it takes to overcoming the situation. No, it will not be easy. In fact, it will require more determination and dedication than you can imagine. However, the reward will be greater than you can ever imagine. So, go on, leader. Get open.
The time has come for each of us to become accountable. To experience the freedom, peace of mind, and overwhelming self-confidence that come from living a life free of secrets and lies. In every area of our lives, it’s time to go beyond self-help . . . it’s time to get accountable. It’s time to live Open..