I have spent two of the past 3+ years living on different continents from my own. I have lived under a thatch roof in a former game reserve in South Africa. I have lived in a communist-era style flat in the Czech Republic. I have learned about different cultures and (however clumsily) embraced them. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I have had or the people I have met in those places for anything in the world.
One downside to my travels is I have missed out on the fall season the last two years here in New England. Fall in New England is my favorite season and place in the world. It gets colder but not too cold. The leaves are beautiful. Cross Country, my sport, is in full swing. Returning to America this summer I knew I had a job lined up coaching cross country. I was excited for all the expected reasons. The past couple months I have been able to live, breath, and experience the sport that I have missed for 3 years.
It all culminated this past weekend on an absolutely stunning mid-60s, mid-November day. My team had its last race, a regional championship against private schools from all over New England. My school had the privilege of hosting. Three large races were part of the race program. I could only take a small piece of the credit because I wasn’t the meet director but things went off without a hitch. People were giving me rave reviews about how well everything went.
After the day had ended I was exhausted from running around and yelling all day. It took me a good two days to recover. But it was a fantastic day and a fantastic way to end the season. South Africa was beautiful and incredible. The Czech Republic was fascinating and awesome. But there can be no doubt, sometimes Home is nice too.
I feel like leadership is talked about a lot. It’s a skill everyone wants and that everyone wants to judge in other people, especially public figures. In addition it seems like everyone has their own idea of what leadership looks like, of what it should be. The last decade of my life, stretching from adolescence into adulthood, I have been blessed to have myriad opportunities to learn about and be in a position of leadership. I have gained much experience and had many lessons on multiple continents. And here I sit and the best thing I’ve come up with to title this entry is “Leadership can be tricky.” (Eloquence has never been my strong suit…)
I’m writing this entry today because tomorrow I enter a position of leadership I have never had before. I am going to be the head coach of the cross-country program at a local high school. On one hand I am ridiculously excited to be doing this. I love running and sports in general and I am very competitive. I have the experience to do this job and to do it well. While I hope to be a teacher in coming years I want to pair that with coaching. This is my first step towards that goal and it’s a big one.
On the other hand this is totally new to me. I have never been this high up in anything. I have almost always been the follower. Obedient, smart, willing to take charge if needed, but never the actual go-to guy. I’m the decision maker now. I’m the one with the plan, the philosophy, the one responsible for how things go. I am the leader. It’s all slightly overwhelming if I let my overly analytical mind think about it too much.
At the end of the day I know that once I get the first practice out of the way things will start to fall into place. I’m grateful to have a job and I know this will be a great season. One helpful thought that has been floating in my head all week is that “Leadership is Servanthood.” My goal in leading is to serve. My runners, my assistants, everyone I meet this fall I want to help in whatever way I’m able. Leadership may be tricky but if I keep the right perspective I’m ready for the ride.