Leaders learn to be flexible in all circumstances

My family moved to Malaga in 1961. The old farm house only had three bedrooms so sleeping arrangements were cramped at times.

Mom and Dad claimed one bedroom upstairs and Joe and I had separate beds in the other upstairs bedroom. Sylvia and Jack slept in the downstairs bedroom. Jack was 5 and Sylvia was 13.

In a couple of years, Jack grew too big to sleep with Sylvia and at the same time, Dad was banished from Mom’s bedroom for violent snoring. These changes put Dad and Jack in one bed and Joe and me in the other bed in the same room. The women now both had bedrooms to themselves.

Dad and Jack seemed fine together since Jack was so little. Joe and I were another matter altogether. By this time, we were about the same size. If I moved too much, I could expect a harsh reprimand or even a swat of Joe’s hand. I dared not wake Dad so I absorbed my admonishments.

I seldom awoke during the night but when I did it was a frightening experience. In addition to Dad’s snoring, he snapped and ground his teeth, which sounded like huge pieces of glass glancing off one another. Joe and Jack harmonized with snoring and teeth snapping of their own. It sounded like I was in the middle of a jungle with various wild animals wailing around me. On those nights, sleep was hard to come by. I am sure during most nights I contributed my own bestial sounds.

At one point, conflict between Joe and me became noticeable, and I was moved to a day bed in Mom’s room as a temporary measure. This accommodation gave Mom and me a lot of time to talk prior to sleeping, which I greatly enjoyed. We talked about many things we probably would not have otherwise. I was always very open with Mom and Dad when time allowed the conversation.

Mom had a habit of reading for about a half an hour before falling to sleep. Her practice of reading required me to develop the ability to sleep with the light on, which I managed quickly. Even today, although I don’t like a light on when I sleep, I am able to fall asleep light or no light.

When Sylvia went to college, Dad claimed her bedroom, which gave Joe his own bed and put Jack and me together. Jack and I got along fairly well so it worked out for us. A couple of years later, Joe went to college and I finally had a bed of my own.

I didn’t question the sleeping arrangements. They seemed logical and appropriate, even though, they were not always comfortable. With these situations, I believe I learned flexibility. Life doesn’t always give us our preferred environment. Good leaders adjust to their environment and utilize the resources available to their best use. If at first accommodations don’t work, they experiment with new arrangements.

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, www.raycomlearning.com or call him at 740-629-4536. Everyday Leadership usually appears Wednesdays on the Business page.


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