Where Leadership Begins

I’m having a bit of a rant today.  I hope you will indulge me.  It doesn’t happen often but the events of the past few days in Vancouver have preyed on my mind.

A picture is worth a thousand words, or so they say.  But, for the life of me I can’t think what this picture is saying to me.  I only know I’m appalled and sad beyond words when I look at it.

photo by Anthony Bolante/Reuters

I believe that leadership begins with each of us, from the inside out.  That’s why I call this blog You’re Not the Boss of Me, because in the end, we are led by our choices and we influence others through our own behaviour.

When I look at this young woman, I wonder to what extent she appreciates the impact this picture, captured forever, will have on her life.  I wonder too if she has yet to learn the lesson of balance…not the work/life kind, but the rights/responsibilities kind.

How many others are out there who feel entitled enough to see nothing wrong with this image?

She may say, “We were only having fun”, but her city is being trashed and she is smiling and posing in a way that suggests she doesn’t care…that her only concern is to have a souvenir to show her friends.

I, for one, find that frightening.

Of course, this one young woman does not speak for the myriad of other young men and women everywhere who are doing great things for both themselves and others.  I worry though that more of us are neglecting to teach our children some of the basic lessons of living a rewarding and responsible life.

How could it be that when interviewed about being charged with looting, another young woman was heard to say to the press, “Somebody gave me the purse.  I knew it was stolen but I took it anyway. There’s nothing wrong with that. I didn’t steal it.”

This country is rife with privilege and plenty.  Those who fail to instill gratitude, responsibility and compassion for others in their children are doing them a huge disfavour and the rest of the world a disservice.

Leadership begins with us.  And it begins at home.

What do you think?



Filed under Leadership, Learning

21 responses to “Where Leadership Begins

  1. Gwyn, The picture is quite disturbing. And what concerns me even more is anticipating the young woman’s response which would most likely be “I was just fooling around.” I glad you wrote this post. It’s not a “rant.” You have your clearly and objectively addressed the issues. And I am grateful you wrote it because I can now forward this to my adolescent sons to initiate a conversation.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Thank you, Jesse…knowing this post could serve a useful purpose makes it very much worth the writing. 🙂

  2. Phiippe P.

    Wow. And I thought I was the only one thinking this society is going in the wrong direction, and all because of poor parenting…

    I have many friends that have young kids, nice lovely kids but you can see quickly who is parenting, educating, raising their kids and who is just cuddling them into adulthood.

    The first type of parents, they are not mean and hard like our grand-parents had been to our parents. They have rules and when the rules are broken, punishment follows. The kids, other them those times where they are punished, smiles, have fun, are playful, they enjoy life but are polite and respectful.

    Second types of parents, well, simply put, there is no consequences, no punishment just: “You should not do this… It is not nice.” (pay attention to the no contraction of “it” and “is”).

    What goes on with those kids? Manipulation, wining all the time, disrespect to their siblings and parents… And the kids are all less then 4 years old.

    Sad part, the majority of my parenting friends are of the second sort and are oblivious to what is going on but complain that teens are not raised today…

    That is today’s society and fact. People, if you are appalled, how did you raised your kids? Were you the perfect parent where you would not dare punish your kid or were you the mean one where there was punishment and consequences for bad behavior?

    We see today the consequences of how we raised our kids. People complain that what happened in Vancouver its not the Canadian way, well Playstation, Nintendo, XBox, TV and and the sorts are not the way to raise kids.

    Nothing is free in this world. We collect the fruits of the efforts we’ve put into out, including raising our kids….

    (sorry for the long rant)

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective on this. I smiled at the term “cuddling them into adulthood” but what I get from that is that some well meaning parents believe that love is always soft. In my experience it is both soft *and* hard. The hard part is all about boundaries, establishing them and sticking with them.
      Thanks for coming by!

  3. Gwyn,
    Bravo. As Rep. Weiner learned, there are no “mulligans” once you post a photograph or tweet on the Internet.

    I always enjoy my Sunday bagel and your blog.

    Well said.

  4. vicki

    you nailed it, gwyn! vicki 🙂

  5. Hi Gwyn – I saw this on the news with also the comment that photos were being taken as if it was part of some entertainment programme. I understand it was after a loss at a sports game. So I don’t think you are ranting. One can only hope that someone in this young woman’s life will step up to mentor her. Will there be consequences ?Probably. But also probably insufficient.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Hi Dorothy~ Yes, looking at the photo would seem to someone unfamiliar with what’s going on as if this was a staged event but sadly not.
      I don’t know about this particular young woman but others who participated in this debacle are beginning to reap something of what they have sown here. Some have been fired from their jobs and one young man, a promising athlete has lost his scholarship. So as for consequences, there seem to be some being suffered. As you point out, it will be anyone’s guess as to whether it will be enough.

  6. I see insecurity, someone yearning for acceptance/respect (from the wrong crowd). In my early teens, I wrote on bathroom walls and carved my name into school desks etc. – back then, it did not occur to me I was vandalizing and destroying other people’s property – I just thought I was being cool. Irresponsible, ungrateful, misguided, proud… and maybe crying out for help.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      An astute observation, Anna, and one that led me to tap into my own teen self, when it was so important to belong that I would say, and do, things that were completely out of character for me.
      I think too, that those are the years when parental, and other boundaries need to be clearly in play. In my teenage years, I was secretly glad of boundaries and rules because I had a reason not to risk my reputation, or my well-being for the sake of being accepted by my peers.
      We don’t really know what’s going on in this young woman’s head as we look at this picture. We can only conjecture. Insecurity and a desire for acceptance is a very strong possibility. Perhaps we can hope there is someone in her life who will guide her, rather than “cuddle” her into adulthood (a great expression by @Phippe P’s comment) from here on in.
      Thanks for coming by!

  7. Great rant. Great points. I included this post in my weekly selection of top leadership posts from the independent business blogs.


  8. Hi Gwyn,

    As a fellow Canadian, I was equally appalled by the reaction of a group of fans to the their hockey’s team loss, especially after Vancouver did such an incredible job showcasing what a great country we have.

    Being a Montrealer, I sadly know only too well how these sports-related riots can bring down the sense of community, sense of collective worth and appreciation for others. However, in spite of the actions of these individuals, in the days after these despicable acts, the light began to shine on those who refused to put up with such conduct, and of those who gave up their own free time to clean up the mess others had left behind.

    Watching the actions of these people, I couldn’t help but see the kind of leadership we need to see more of in this society. Sure, there are many parents who are dropping the ball in a big way and thereby setting up a challenging situation for leaders, employers and employees in the long run. Then again, given the actions of those in Vancouver who wanted to take their city back from those who’ve clearly taken it for granted, I have hope that there will be many who we can gladly hand the reins over to, knowing that our communities and organizations will be in good hands.

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Well said, Tanveer. When shocking things like this happen in our communities, it is easy to come to unsubstantiated conclusions about the ability of future generations to take the lead. If we take the time to look deeper and wider though, there are always things happening that provide a balancing view. As you point out so well, this awful situation was gladdened by the efforts of those who helped to clean up.
      Thank you for sharing this perspective. It is an important one.

  9. Get Your Leadership BIG On!

    Gwyn –

    The significance of the appearance of insignificance in the photo is indeed deeply troubling. I’m with Dorothy in hoping that this young woman is exposed to mentors who guide her attitudes and beliefs so violence, rage and destruction aren’t appropriate outlets for disappointment. Rants are good for the soul!

    • Gwyn Teatro

      Jane ~ As for the first part, I couldn’t agree more with you and Dorothy! As for the second, while rants may be good for the soul, I don’t recommend them as a steady diet. Those soap boxes can get very heavy… and annoying to be around.
      Thanks for coming by! It’s always nice when you do 🙂

  10. Gwyn – I’ve contemplated this photo many times too. My thoughts run to – what is she thinking, who is she, is it a moment of transgression or has she been headed down a bad road for awhile? Then, why does she think she has a right to be so cheeky and make light of such a heinous evening?

    As Anna said, we’ve all had our slips and made bad decisions. But thankfully for myself, I’ve had lots of guiding hands. The ones who were not afraid of both hard and soft love. Does she? But then does it leave her any less culpable? I believe not.

    Further to the topic at hand, I just came across this article regarding George Moen from Blenz Coffee and how he is handling the destruction to three of his coffee shops and the hit to the morale of his employees. Kudos to him! http://www.vancitybuzz.com/2011/06/blenz-coffee-files-lawsuit-against-rioters/

    And not ranting Gwyn – just stating facts and feelings.


    • Gwyn Teatro

      Janice ~ I expect there are lots of interpretations about what’s happening in the photograph, none of which is particularly palatable. Whatever this young woman did over the course of the evening, it is hoped that the consequences that come from them, for her, will be enough to serve as a life-long lesson.
      Thanks for providing the link to the article. *There* is someone who is not willing to sit by and be bullied or allow others to be.
      I rather suspect, we have not seen the last of this for quite a while to come, as more people come forward and more attempt to achieve justice.
      Thank you for coming by!

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