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There are moments when we embrace leadership. Other times we follow. Healthy and balanced lives make conscious choices for each. And as we raise our children we always lead by example, sometimes they follow. Our choices become their benchmark and our commitments show them integrity and honor.

It’s election time as we all know, but in my house it’s even more personal as my son campaigns for campus historian. He is 100% dedicated to his school, student body and the responsibility of photographing every campus event. He’s shown his commitment through conversations with students, initiative in leadership class and the “marketing” voice he projects in campaign materials. I’ve coached him to understand that hanging posters that scream “Vote for Me” is self-centered and that by focusing his message on “You,” the student body, he shows commitment to the students, the office and the school. His headlines speak of celebrating memories, and focusing on the good the school does. It’s about THEM, not him. His posters show friendly, smiling pictures of himself, with his camera in hand showing he’s ready to get to work. Every component of the campaign (buttons, keychains, pencils, bookmarks) is crafted by him with care and quality. I proudly confess I’ve trained him well.

So today, day 3 of campaigning, he was confronted with the conflicting emotions that come from putting yourself front and center. You know the ones – vulnerability, fear, anxiety and even anger. You see, another candidate decided to duplicate his campaign strategy – literally! Same picture of smiling boy with camera, same colors, SAME POSITIONING MESSAGE! Clearly, this was not by coincidence since my son already had his posters up for two days. He was angry! Heck, I was angry for him, but it was my turn to lead him through the emotions to discover the underlying message in it all. Here’s how our conversation went…

“Mom, he copied me!” he said.

“Yes he did honey. Do you think others see that too?” I replied.

“Yes.”

“And do you think students will vote for someone who copies another? Do you think that represents good values for the student, the position and the school?”

“No,” he quietly responds.

“Son, there are leaders and there are followers. Every day we make a choice to be one or the other. Today, you are the leader and he’s a follower. It’s not about who’s right or wrong, good or bad. It’s up to the students to decide which is more important to them as they vote. If they’re looking for a leader who brings positivity, confidence, forward thinking, care and quality into everything they do, then the choice is clear.”

My creation today brought my handsome boy an awareness of the value of leadership. And that a committed and caring voice which inspires and motivates others is the greatest value we possess!

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