Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Leadership Exemplified

Chris forwarded this email to me yesterday from a newsletter he receives. The newsletter is written by Doug Cartland, who writes and presents about leadership. (Doug's Website) With Doug’s permission, I’m reprinting it for you below.

I might blog about this tomorrow, or might simply let it be. I was very moved by this marine and young boy. I saw examples of great leadership, what good teaching can look like, and simply honor exemplified.

I will be sharing this post, along with the article linked inside of it, with my students this fall. We’re starting off the year with a great deal of discussions around character and I’m planning to help them look to what type of person they want to be.


Charlevoix is a small harbor town, tucked into the far northern reaches of the lower peninsula of Michigan. It's beautiful, round Lake Charlevoix is connected by a pretty channel to Lake Michigan and is a natural harbor for lake faring boats.

It was also the place of a profound display of leadership just a couple of weekends ago....

Lance Corporal Myles Kerr finished last in the Jeff Drenth Memorial 5K Footrace in Charlevoix, a community event for all ages, shapes and sizes.

Kerr is a healthy, athletic, strapping nineteen-year-old Marine. He finished so far behind his buddies, however, that they were concerned that he had gotten hurt.

What gives?  

Also running in the race was a nine-year-old boy named Boden Fuchs. Boden was not very athletic and he was slowly but surely slipping further and further behind the pack. He had become separated from the group he had come to run with.

The young man was lopping along alone, hot, tired, about ready to quit.

Peering back, Lance Corporal Kerr spied Boden struggling. Complete with his full backpack, wearing boots and fatigues, he circled back to the boy.

Kerr asked Boden if he was okay. The nine-year-old was now well back of the closest runner.

He looked up at the Marine. "Sir, would you please run with me?" he asked.

The Lance Corporal agreed.

There is a wonderful picture of Lance Corporal Myles Kerr running alongside nine-year-old Boden Fuchs, encouraging him, telling him that he would be okay and that he would be with him to the finish. Check it out here:

In the end, Lance Corporal Kerr slid behind Boden, allowing the boy to finish five seconds ahead of him. After they drank some fluids, the Marine helped the boy find and reunite with his group.

Kerr certainly ran true to the Marine credo that there will be "no one left behind."

But more than that, he proved that true leadership isn't always leading from the front...and it's not always finishing first. Sometimes when it's at its most profound, leadership's rewards are least hidden places.

Indeed, sometimes leadership is at its best when, rather than running with the elite, it slows its pace...reaches out a hand...lends its the weak. And by that makes the weak stronger than it thought it could be.