Leadership is a metaphor, actions are real

During the 2009 and 2010, I had the great honor and pleasure to be Dr. Marilyn Atkinson’s (founder and president of Erickson Coaching International) teaching assistant at training “The Art and Science of Coaching”. At that time Marilyn was coming quite often to Belgrade. On one of her visits, besides open training, we had scheduled in-house training for an international company.

While the third module of training “The Art and Science of Coaching” was in progress, Marilyn asked me if I could arrange transportation to Bratislava and back for her, during our already scheduled three-days break. I got little bit confused, why she would like to go to Bratislava and back in just 3 days? Having in mind that at that time all flights over Europe were stopped due to the volcano eruption in Iceland, there were many better ways to use such a short break.

After she found out that there is no possibility to travel by plane, she asked me if I can book a return train ticked for her. Considering the period of only 3 days and the comfort of Serbian railway transportation, travelling to Bratislava did not seemed logical at all. My attempts to make her change her mind did not work. After I organized everything, I was curious to find out what was the reason behind? Probably something very important, I thought.

I’ve found a proper moment, and I asked her: “Marylin, why is it so important for you to travel to Bratislava?”
She replied: “There is one person in Bratislava who wants to become a trainer, and I’m going to there support him.”
This left me speechless. If someone at her age uses 3 days break to travel to Bratislava and back, by train to support one person, what should I do if support is something that I value? This was a great lesson for me.
Most of the people we meet, we work and live with are fighting for their dreams. The worst thing is when one gives up on whats is truly important for him.
So if support is something that I value I can do something about it on daily basis. Its great to travel around the world and work with people who are already good in what they are doing but the most important projects are happening between these journeys. With our family members, our friends and colleagues. Often a small support is all that is need for a next big step in life. On the long run, by supporting someone, we do not support only that person, we make a great impact on society as well, and this is Erickson Coaching International mission: “Changing the world one conversation at the time.”
What for me makes a difference is when a leader doesn’t preach vision or mission, but on daily basis do things that are aligned with it.