By Lt. Col. Clifton Nowell , 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron
/ Published May 22, 2019
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
Have you ever watched a drop of water fall into a still body of water and watched the ripples spread out? I have. I then asked myself, “am I the single drop, or the ripples?” It is a fascinating question, and the answer is even more enthralling.
As I pondered on the question, my first thought was to be the drop. I wanted to be the one that takes the lead and causes the ripple effect. In my mind, being a leader meant being the champion, the hero, successful, and infallible. Then, I had an epiphany. I was wrong.
Leadership is much more. As defined in the Business Dictionary, it involves establishing a clear vision, sharing that vision with others so that they will follow willingly, providing information, knowledge and methods to realize that vision, coordinating, and balancing the conflicting interests of all members and stakeholders.
A leader steps up in times of crisis and is able to think and act. Leaders are the keystone of an arch; strategically placed, able to bear the pressure of the other stones of the arch, and the last stone to be placed before the support structure is removed. Leadership cannot be taught, but it can be enhanced through experience, mentorship, stewardship, and patience.
One of the attributes of good leadership is knowing when to follow. So, I thought, “what if I was the body of water being acted upon by that single drop of water?” The body of water is made up of innumerable individual drops of water, none more important than the other. Without each other, the body of water would exist and the ripple could not occur. Carrying the message and sharing the vision of the leader is just as important as establishing the vision.
Margaret Weis, a New York Times bestselling author, once said, “If a single drop falls into the ocean, it creates ripples. And these ripples spread. And perhaps - who knows - these ripples may grow and swell and eventually break foaming upon the shore.”
As each individual in the body of water works together, the effect builds, spreading outward from us and affecting others.
Whether we serve as the originator or the concluder, our whether our actions are big or small, in the grand scheme we are equally important. We need to know, embrace, and magnify our role.