Volume 3, Issue 9

September 2014

Blue Ridge Conference

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October 8 - 10, 2014

Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership

Black Mountain, NC

The Example

As I have observed people during my 65 years on this earth, I have found myself inspired by so many.   Thinking back about those who have inspired me and others, I am reminded of a local fellow in the Auburn, Alabama community.  He was known as “Mr. Penny.”  Mr. Penny spent 35 years with the local school system as the crossing guard and also as the custodian at the elementary school that my children attended.  You could count on Mr. Penny to be there rain or shine at his station on the corner of Dean Road and Samford Avenue.  Kids and parents for 35 years came to love Mr. Penny.  He would hug the kids, encourage them, and scold them when necessary, yet they all loved and respected him. 

Mr. Penny was never the CEO of a company but he earned great respect and he set such a wonderful example of hard work and concern for others.  Mr. Penny not only worked for all those years at the school but most of the time he worked a second job bussing tables at local restaurants.   He always had a smile on his face and seemed to truly enjoy hard work.

In addition, Mr. Penny was a huge fan of the Auburn Tigers; so much so that the townspeople carried out a fundraiser to send him to the National Championship Football game in 2010.  He was known for his pushups each time Auburn scored.  Tragically, Mr. Penny passed away in 2014.  But thousands of individuals will always remember him for the leadership he demonstrated by the way he worked and lived.  He was never the CEO, he was never the school principal, he was never the superintendent of schools, but his impact on people was immeasurable.

The point is that we can all be examples to others, regardless of our work positions or our status in life.  We are all watched by someone each day; how we act and behave can indeed be an example to others.  In the world of business, everyone is important regardless of their position, from custodian to CEO.  And everyone has the ability to influence others.  It may be a colleague on the production line who is impressed with your work ethic.  Sometimes we will never know, but rest assured we all have some impact of those around us.  Never ignore those around you!  We can all learn something from each other.

So always think of the potential of your influence as you go about your day at work, and also as you go about the normal day to day activities of life with your family and friends.  Be the example you should be for others.   This is what leadership is all about!

- John Jahera


The contributor for this month's newsletter is Dr. John Jahera

Board Member of the Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership

Bobby Lowder Professor, Auburn University


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