Current leaders teach skills to next generation

My Dad tried by every means at his disposal to make me a capitalist. He took me to the Barnesville First National Bank to set up a savings account when I was in the fourth grade. Until my first year of college, I deposited and withdrew money from my allowances and money I made from putting up hay for local farmers and selling eggs and livestock. My first two semesters in college were financed by the balance in that account.

At other times, I found opportunities to buy or sell items of interest. On a bicycle trip with my brother, Jack, I found a beautiful painted turtle in a water-filled ditch by the road and sold it to a neighbor for a dollar and twenty-five cents. When I bought a bigger stamp book, I sold my old one for two dollars. On our trips to Malaga to play with friends, my brothers and I frequently searched the sides of the road for pop bottles, which went for three cents each at that time.

So, when I was president of our 4-H club, The Malaga Guys, and was looking for a fundraiser, I proposed we find a product people would want and sell it. We considered all kinds of candy but voted to sell potato chips. Not just any potato chips, Mr. Bee’s potato chips.

I asked each club member to set a goal of the number of bags of potato chips he could sell. I committed to selling 50 bags, twice the number of any other member. I was a little scared with the enormous task I had created for myself. Most of the other boys had extended family, grandparents, cousins and the like, in the area. I just had Mom and Dad. Being school teachers with four kids, there were only so many chips they were willing to buy.

I canvassed my four neighbors and they were very generous in their purchases. My only other available geography was Malaga itself. I knew I would be competing against my own club members but began my door knocking anyway.

Some of the families had already been solicited and to my surprise bought some from me also. The event turned out to be a great success. I sold over 150 bags and almost every other club member doubled his goal. The profits funded the required purchases for the club for the next two years. In the past, many of these supplies had been self-financed by the club advisor, Mrs. Christman.

Although it was a little scary going to the homes of people I didn’t know, each sale boosted my confidence. Our success as a chapter seemed to bond us together also. I became enamored with the tension between the fear and excitement of the sale. I felt good about my ability to invent, organize, and lead such an event. I am glad Dad taught me a respect for money and hard work.

Good leaders have probably had exciting experiences in leading early in life. They also encourage young people to have similar experiences. Some say leaders are born and there may be some truth to that belief. I think having successful leadership projects early in life ignites one’s love of leading. Present leaders teach, encourage, and make future leaders.

R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray’s completely revised, third printing of The Facilitative Leader: Behaviors that Enable Success, visit his Web site, or call him at 740-629-4536. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.