Winning requires risk
Dave, newsmill shift coordinator for a paper mill in northern Ontario, Canada, told Session 3B of the Leadership Development Lab (LDL):
"Eight years ago, my wife and I received a phone call from our 17-year old niece in Thunder Bay. She was having difficulty applying herself to her schoolwork and she was convinced that she would jeopardize her education if she could not get out of town and come to stay with us to finish out her high school years. Knowing that she had lost her father five years earlier at 12 years old and that her mother was still having her own difficulties coping with the loss, we did not hesitate to say yes, on the condition that our house rules would be respected.
Other family members living in the same community of Thunder Bay warned us. They expressed concern that we were getting ourselves into a problem because she had become involved in drugs and drinking, and not having the benefit of either parent, she had basically gone over to the 'dark side'.
After obtaining legal guardianship and explaining our desire to help, we made the ground rules very clear and we knew that she would have to make a very concentrated effort to change. She completely surprised us with her determination to clean up. My wife and I had a great time. She was a delight to have around and gave us absolutely no
problems. She finished high school, went on to college, and has since married a wonderful young man. They have purchased their first home and I am thrilled that they continue to keep in close contact by phone and email from Ottawa where they live.
The lesson I learned from this experience is to take chances, take the risk of helping others, especially when it concerns the welfare of loved ones.
The action I call you to take is to step up and do that little bit extra when needed. Be willing to give, to invest in the future generation. Be there for someone, even if, especially if there is some risk involved.
The benefit you will gain is a better relationship with those who matter most to you, and perhaps, like me, you can share in every one of their successes and celebrate their life's blessings as if they were your own."
As we go through life, we sometimes get burnt out a little. We feel betrayed, let down, taken advantage of. Dave's story reminds us of the importance of not giving up on people. Follow his example, set and communicate the performance standards, the guidelines, the ground rules, hold people accountable to your agreed-to standards. You may be amazed at how responsive people can be. You may save a life while you are enriching your own.