Entire books are written about leaving a legacy behind when passing the mantle of leadership to a new generation of leaders. Some of these accounts are written by the individual leader in an effort to put a positive spin on history. From my perspective, the more accurate descriptions of a leader’s legacy are written by those he or she may have worked closely with after a bit of time has elapsed. The perspective of time reveals the lasting impact of their work.
The past several months have been marked by a number of events that are accurately described as tragedies. Hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, the mass shooting in Las Vegas, and the wildfires in the western states of Montana and California are combined into a string of events that is unparalleled in my memory. Some of these are called “natural disasters” while others reflect premeditated, evil intent directed toward an innocent population. Seeing each of these situations on the television screen leaves an indelible mark on each of us, especially if children or the elderly are involved.
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Watching the hurricane disasters in Texas and Florida has been both riveting and helpful to put the important things of life in perspective. The simultaneous unfolding of a complex drama – the power of the elements, loss of property and life, and human suffering is combined with extraordinary acts of kindness and heroism.
In 2008 my wife and I had the privilege of traveling to Israel. Part of the trip included visiting the place where the conflict between David and Goliath took place – the valley of Elah. For those who have not read the story, it can be found in I Samuel Chapter 17, verses 1-54. It is rich with detail as a titanic struggle between good and evil. For a few minutes I was able to touch the stones in the stream where scholars believe the young shepherd boy David collected 5 smooth stones in preparation for fighting the giant Philistine warrior Goliath. The images were striking. I could almost feel the drama of the story unfolding, imagining the thoughts of a shepherd selecting the stones that he was going to use in this life or death conflict.
For most people and organizations, the idea of change is both hopeful and terrifying. We all hope for a better future, and that things that are difficult or problematic now will improve. But the idea of change can also be troublesome, especially if the change involves risk or leaving your personal comfort zone to embrace something new.
One of my favorite movies is the 1990’s classic “You’ve Got Mail”. The movie is about the owner of a small bookstore that is being put out of business by a super-sized bookstore chain (which is pretty ironic because in the intervening years large chain bookstores have been under attack by Amazon and other online sources). In one memor