Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I Always Wanted to be a Hero, but Thought There'd be More Web-Slinging

As a kid, I always dreamed of being a hero. But it usually involved using my spider-sense to solve crimes. Little did I know I'd be recognized as a real-life Arlington County Community Hero a couple of decades later.

OK, so I've come to realize I'll never run faster than a speeding bullet or be more powerful than a locomotive or be able to leap a tall building in a single bound. But there are parallels between comic book heroes and Arlington's Community Heroes. The community's in trouble. Someone has to step up. Who's willing to step forward and do what it takes to solve the problem?

It's a bigger challenge than you'd think. What if you fail? What if you try to rally everyone to a cause and no one shows up?

Fortunately, my parents instilled several values in me that have given me confidence:

There are three rules that I live by: Never get less than twelve hours sleep; never play cards with a guy who has the same first name as a city; and never get involved with a woman with a tattoo of a dagger on her body. Now you stick to that, and everything else is cream cheese.

No, wait ... that was Coach Finstock's advice in Teen Wolf. My parents' advice was:

1) Listen to good advice, but don't be afraid to do what you think is right.
2) No idea is dumb or too unconventional if you're willing to do the work to see it through.
3) Whether you succeed or fail doesn't change the fact that you're a good person.
Fortunately I've been lucky enough to find mentors here in Arlington whose mindset is closer to my parents than Coach Finstock, like Elenor Hodges with Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment and Greg Castano with Community Role Models.

The best advice on leadership I've heard lately? A quote from Colin Powell:

Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.
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