Some say leaders are born. Some say leaders are created. Our children are too important for us to sit around hoping that they will somehow turn out to have been “born” great. Sure, there are some people that are naturally gifted or fit for certain things and those attributes are important to notice early on in a child’s life.
Consider retired U.S Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps who won 28 medals. Phelps’s body dimensions are reported as being ideal for a swimmer, we could say he was born to be in the water. At the same time, how many people in the world have similar physiques who are not Olympic swimmers or even good swimmers. It’s easy to say after the fact, that he was born for this, but was it apparent before he started on that journey as a child?
Consider NBA and WNBA players, sure they’re extremely tall in most cases, but how many extremely tall people are there in the world who actually wanted to be professional basketball players and are not. How many great natural born singers never become professional musicians? That’s nature. It’s a great head start, but even nature has to be nurtured to reach its potential.
Let’s consider some well-known born leaders, people who had their destiny confirmed before it was even on the cards. The great leaders in the Bible were ordinary men, or some say even less than ordinary, simple men who were chosen, destined and accepted the call to lead. King David, one of the most famous leaders in the Bible was a shepherd boy tending his father’s sheep when God sent the prophet Samuel to anoint him to be King. He was so ordinary that both David’s father, Jesse, and Samuel thought he had been sent to anoint David’s older brother Eliab. We can only imagine that Eliab must have looked like a potential king and leader of a people. Perhaps he possessed an aura about him, the kind of person who fills a room with their presence, and yet he was not the future King of Israel.
1 Samuel 16: 7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” Jesse’s youngest son, David, was the future king even though he didn’t fit the description. He was just a shepherd boy, the humblest of worker (he was doing his chores), and yet greatness was inside him.
Let’s consider another great, Moses, who led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt. When God chose Moses to be the leader of his people, he thought the Lord had made a mistake. He did not think that he was capable and tried to come up with every reason why he was not the man for the job. Exodus 4: 10, Moses said to the Lord, “Oh Lord I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Moses had an idea of what leaders are and he fell short in his own eyes, but once again greatness was inside of him.
David and Moses started out green, but every experience was a lesson, actively preparing them and leading them to their destiny. These men were regular people, so when we look at our children and they seem like regular children we know we’ve hit the jackpot.
Regular people are nurtured to reach their greatness. No one achieves greatness alone. If you read biographies, for every person who has excelled in their field there will be someone who took them under their wing, directing and leading them to discover who they could be. This is the reason that mentorship is critical to leadership development.
Excerpt from Chapter 10, "Nurture, Don't Wait For Nature" in the book RAISING WINNERS.
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