My family and I have decided to relocate to Arizona. The reasons are many, most of which are personal.
This week, I was getting my son in the car, about to head to my daughter’s softball practice. One of our neighbors, Ben, approached me. I can’t say that we know each other very well, but he’s always very cordial, and they seem to be a nice family.
Ben walked up and said, “So, you are doing it, huh?”
“Yes,” I replied. “For us, it’s the right move and something that we need to do for our family.”
“You’re doing the right thing,” Ben said. “So many of us talk about it, but none of us have the courage to do it. You are and do. I’m envious!”
“We all have choices,” I replied. “Some easy and some difficult. Whatever our reasons are, they are. But we’ve gotta do what’s right for us.”
I nodded my thanks to Ben and went back to putting my son in the car.
But before he walked away, Ben said, “Hey, Jeremy. You’re leading by example. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you otherwise. Be you and do what’s best for you. Ultimately, you are leading, and others will follow.”
That stuck with me all week. We are – I am, most certainly, not making this move for others or outward perceptions. That said, I have ALWAYS believed that you do what is best and help others to think outside of themselves. It’s about getting comfortable with the uncomfortable. No matter what that is or what that means to you, reflect on it for a minute.
This was not a decision we took lightly. When my grandparents passed, we took over all of the holidays to make sure they continued; to ensure the family unit stayed together and traditions were remembered.
I even said to my family that the rule was if they were coming to (name the holiday, we do them all!) and they are bringing food, it must be homemade. Dinner is at 6 pm, but you must be there by 3 pm!
When I first brought this up, my family said, “Who do you think you are? Homemade?! Telling us when to arrive?!!”
The purpose was not to dictate but to guide. As a family, we had gotten lazy. We would go to Costco and get a pre-made chicken; show up 30 minutes before dinner, eat and leave. This was just good enough to say we’d gotten together for the holidays, to check the box.
But is that the point of life? Just to check off our family obligations?
That is NOT good enough.
Instead, I wanted us all – me included – to do better by making a greater effort; be fully present, reinvest in family our most valuable asset, our time.
My new policy wasn’t popular at first, let me tell you!
But now, years into this, what has happened? Everyone shows up early. They do their best to make the tastiest homemade food they can share with the family. They really get into it – it’s almost a friendly competition. They show up at 3 pm – or earlier. They’re present and ready to talk, laugh, care, LOVE, spend time with family.
As a result, we’ve all gotten so much closer. No longer are we just showing up, but we’re coming and spending quality time because we WANT to be there for one another. We all understand how important this time is together and that looking back, this is what we’ll remember with a rosy glow.
“You’re leading by example,” Ben said to me. “You are leading, and others will follow.”
Leadership takes on many forms, some simple and some not so much. And it doesn’t have to be the big, bold things that are noticeable by others. Small things that no one else sees, like family holidays with Draconian rules, could lead to so much more, too.
Never give up on that. Make the choice to lead.
I promise, many will follow and, most importantly, will feel the impact.
I know I have, and hopefully, my family and friends have, too.