I have held positions of leadership for more decades than I would like to admit, and have multiple advanced degrees in leadership. If there is one thing I have learned through all the lectures and readings, research and hand-on experience, it is that leadership has very little to do with the position you hold and everything to do with the passion you pursue. I was reminded of that fact in recent weeks when a young leader in our community, Clayton Roll, embraced a leadership opportunity in a big way. His actions provide a example to many of us with far more years of “experience” than he holds.
Clayton wasn’t asked to step up, he simply saw a need and decided he was going to do something about it. Clayton’s parents were foster parents for our organization (and amazing ones at that!) so Clayton and his brother grew up with a heart for kids who have had hard starts to their lives. In addition to his “full time job”, Clayton also owns a dumpster and equipment rental business. So last year at Christmas he decided that he wanted to fill a dumpster, dubbed the “Red Neck Sleigh,” with gifts for the kids served by Chaddock. He did Facebook live posts, got permission to park his “sleigh” in retail parking lots, and I’m sure lots of other things we aren’t even aware of, and the results blew us all away. People from all over the country reached out with gifts to support the project.
In true leader fashion, Clayton felt the need to up his game this year so he upgraded the Red Neck Sleigh to a shipping container. That’s right, a shipping container! And in the middle of this exceedingly busy time of the year, Clayton again spent evenings and weekends making sure our kids knew that people all over the country were thinking of them during what can be a very difficult time of the year for our youth.
All of this extra effort is not going to win a promotion for Clayton, there is no raise coming as a result of his impressive results. He simply stepped up to make something he felt passionately about happen. And you can, too. Maybe gathering Christmas gifts for struggling children isn’t what tugs on your heart. Maybe it is the arts, or helping people experience nature, or strengthening your community. Maybe it is helping the elderly or disabled, changing legislation, or creating a product that makes someone’s life easier. It could be part of your official job, or something on the side that makes your heart sing. We all have individual gifts and graces — unique ways that we can have on impact on this world. What is yours? If you are not sure, the end of the year is a great time to reflect on how you want to lead in the coming year — position or no.
The world needs more leaders like Clayton Roll — and like you. How will you step up in the coming year? . . . Roll on my friends!