I am deeply engaged in reading (my friend, your friend, and our friend) John Maxwell’s “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” book and it is amazing how much I am learning even though I am reading it for the second time. This time around, I am reading it not just for the acquisition of knowledge but with purpose. With my heart turning to Youth leadership development, I find myself spending a lot of time on Law number 3 – ‘The Law of Process’. I am learning in this chapter that effective leadership skills can be learned over time and that leadership as a process “encourages development, matures people, changes people, their behaviors and cultural beliefs about leadership”. So in a nutshell, John is saying: “To lead tomorrow, learn today”.
I am deeply moved by the story John shared about a nineteen-year old who attended one of his leadership seminars several years ago. John noticed Brian because he saw eagerness to learn in him. He was taking notes and interacting well with others so when John got to teaching the law of process, he gave Brian the most empowering and wisdom-filled advice that any young and aspiring leader should hear and embrace. Brian, he said: “I’ve been watching you here and I’m very impressed with how hungry you are to learn and glean and grow. I want to tell you a secret that will change your life. I believe that in about 20 years, you can be a great leader. I want to encourage you to make yourself a lifelong learner of leadership.…..It’s not going to be easy but in five years, you’ll see progress as your influence becomes greater. In ten years, you’ll develop a competence that makes your leadership highly effective. And in twenty years, when you are only thirty-nine years old, if you’ve continued to learn and grow, others will likely start asking you to teach them leadership…..You can be a great leader, but it won’t happen in a day. Start paying the price now.”
Being born and raised in Africa – The Gambia, I didn’t have the opportunity that Brian had to attend leadership seminars at the age of nineteen to nurture my leadership skills. Even though I got on the journey later on in life, I am still looking back at many others who were born in my era or before me and even after me who still lack the opportunities to learn and develop their leadership skills. I am challenged today and in the future, to contribute to the development of youth leadership because I want them to experience the prophecy that John spoke over the life of Brian. Remember; “young people (can) make a difference today, they’re not just tomorrow’s leaders”.