This was supposed to be a blog about a little fundraiser but I guess it’s going to be a blog on leadership.
Earlier this week I launched a little Twitter fundraiser, it was a quickly concocted idea and imperfect in a couple ways. Yes, there was self-doubt and hesitation but I did it anyway and in a few short hours 14 people had raised well over $800 for Matt Brown (a mayoral candidate in London) and $400 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (CBCF).
The next day a guy on Twitter jumped on me for not raising the money solely for the CBCF. I knew criticism like that was a risk from the start (remember those self-doubts that I mentioned?) but did it anyway. Why? Because no idea is perfect, no car is perfectly engineered, no software is without bugs and no house is without flaws but at some point you just have to “ship it“. And, as much as I *HATE* to wear it, the decision to “ship it” – the decision to move forward and to try to bring others with me on a mission – makes me a leader.
It took me 3 minutes to type the last four words of that last paragraph, I agonize over typing it. Like many people I struggle with the concept of donning the mantle of leadership, even long after others have pinned the title to us. Leadership is the willingness to step forward and do something (often an imperfect and inadequately planned thing) and to face the vulnerability in having others join you in the effort and to deal with the terrifying prospect that something you create is going to matter (or not matter) to people.
I’m surrounded by leaders (and it’s very likely that you are too). Here are just a few that I brush up against on a regular basis:
- Susan Toth – a founding member of Women in Politics.
- Jeremy and Graham Bird – founding members of London Cycle Link.
- Cheri McLeod – organized London VOICE, an event to encourage community engagement and attracted hundreds of Londoners.
- Greg Fowler – a community leader, activist and THE reason that I’m involved with politics in our city.
- Sue Clifford – convener of Awesome London.
- Gavin Blair – founder of Ignite London, Explode Code and holder of hackathons.
- Chris McInnis – doer of awesome – from Nuit Blanche extravaganzas to Uber Cool Games Night.
- Mathew Hoy – co-founder of Project Play.
(I could go on and on but here’s a Twitter list of a bunch more).
Four years ago I sat in The McKellar room at UWO watching a TEDxToronto satellite broadcast. I had tried, and largely failed, to get people to come out to be inspired. The day stands out in my head for one reason; that I saw a talk by Drew Dudley (video & transcript) that inspired me to think about leadership differently. My lizard brain just as immediately told me I was crazy/unworthy/an idiot and a sucker for believing the guy.
I WAS an idiot. I was an idiot for not letting it take hold, for not believing in myself, for not recognizing the lizard brain at work and for not quieting it.
If it’s in me … a flawed, vulgar, thoughtless, undisciplined, over the hill, hopelessly optimistic, computer geek … then it’s in you too.