Updated: Nov 13
In his book “Personal Best” Marc Woods, the five time Paralympian and multiple gold medalist describes the following under the head “Ordinary people, Extraordinary lives”
"At 43 Jean Dominique Bauby lived a life that many might have envied. He was the editor of France’s Elle magazine, with a promising career ahead of him. Then, in 1995, he suffered a stroke. The stroke left Bauby in a condition known as ‘locked-in syndrome’ the brain worked fine, it just couldn’t communicate with the body. The only muscle that Bauby was able to control was his left eyelid.
There was no hope of making a full or a partial recovery. Finding himself in such a desperate situation Bauby decided to write a book about his plight. With the help of a frequency-ordered alphabet and a companion, he dictated prose by blinking each time his companion pointed at the correct letter. In this incredibly painstaking way, Bauby wrote “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.” The butterfly is Bauby’s imagination trapped inside the diving bell of the body. At over 130 pages, the book represents an incredible feat. Bauby died in 1997 shortly after publication."
The courage and will power of Bauby is something remarkable. What he needed was a companion and a mechanism to make his life meaningful. Most often in an organization, people who have rendered excellent service over a number of years are sidelined, marginalized or condemned once they yield to some kind of personal disability. (May be, you have a few students in your school?) They need a companion and a mechanism. A good leader ensures that such members of the team are taken care of and provided such support and motivation so that they are able to scale their own peaks.
A leader should never be carried away by people who are surrounded by him or who are able to exercise their influence on him. Such acts do not speak of the objective profile the leader is expected to maintain. A leader should learn to live beyond himself. He manifests himself into the aspirations and dreams of his fellow men. His goal embraces the well-being of all those who live for him. His profile enlarges magically and he becomes the adoration of those for whose cause he starts to live. Stephen Covey writes in his book “Living with The 7 Habits”:
Something marvelous and magical takes place when people have a goal that is larger than the self, a goal that is larger than me or mine….. When we live outside ourselves in love and service, we not only find ourselves, we model magnanimity of soul.
Further he quotes:
"I have become increasingly convinced that as we seek “to live, to love, to learn and to leave a legacy” not only will we have a sense of fulfillment and peace of mind, but our life will be truly synergetic – producing new energies, new insights, new opportunities, and larger responsibilities and resources than we could imagine."
Do you have a member in your team who needs such a support? Does he need a companion and a mechanism?
Have you ever thought of reaching out to them – giving a helping hand, a comforting smile, a word of confidence, a hope for the future?
Listen to the words of R.W. Emerson
To laugh often, and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others’ to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.
If you are already doing – why can’t you enlarge that profile?
If you are not – why don’t you take the first step soon?
About the Author
G. Balasubramanian is the Chairperson of Board of Adivsors to International Council for School Leadership (ICSL)
ICSL is a not-for-profit organization on a mission to inspire, empower, and enable school leaders and educators. You can support us by becoming a member, participating in our programs (Friday@5, ReSET), and spreading the word amongst all educators in your network. Your support is very critical for our mission.