I was taught early and often to respect your elders and leave them alone. “Kids should mind their own business.” As a kid, I always wanted to pick the brain of a leader. The inquisitive in me yearn to learn how leaders tick.
In 6th grade, Senator Tom Harkin shows up for a photo/PR opportunity by serving the kids their lunch. He was vouching support for a key legislation piece for the USDA. I walked up in line, grabbed my tray, and when I got to where he was serving chicken nuggets, I proceeded to ask a question. Apparently one of his staffers wasn’t interested in hearing a 6th grader grill the junior senator of Iowa like Mike Wallace from “60 Minutes.” I get nudged (pushed) along down the line.
Flash forward to now. Monday afternoon, I trekked down to Des Moines City Hall to say congrats to a friend who is sitting in on his final city council meeting. I’m lucky that we were classmates in college and had the same major. He was the only one who made me feel like I was someone.
I don’t know if it’s me or the way leaders are in Des Moines, but I get the sense that a good number of them look at me like a second-class peon. If I was to go out of my way to introduce myself and say something nice, I don’t think they would reciprocate the gesture.
Many experts have harped on Generation X’s and Generation Y’s to hang around leaders like Barry Griswell, Christine Hensley, and others, if we want to learn how to be the new up-and-coming community leader.
With that said, do these community leaders want to be around us young professionals and teach us about being leaders? We can read all of the books they put out, listen to the speeches, and take the classes, but will it lead us to be on the same level as they are?
Am I the only person who feels this way?