I turn 30 today, and one thing on my mind is my two wonderful kiddos. They're the best. I wouldn't trade being a parent for anything. But holy cow, it can be a real challenge sometimes.
If you're a parent, you'll understand where I'm coming from. If you're not, I'll explain briefly. There is a huge difference between having kids and being a parent. Lot's of kids have a father. I think the number of children that have a father is right about 100%. It takes two to tango, right? But having a kid is the easy part. Being a parent is completely different. Being a parent is more than just a title, it's a responsibility and a lifestyle. You see, choosing to have a kid is a one time choice. Choosing to raise a child is a lifetime commitment. I go to work to provide for my kids. I exercise to show my kids a healthy lifestyle. I discipline out love, to teach my kids lessons (even though sometimes I just want to be mad).
Some good friends of mine recently adopted a wonderful little guy. He's really a great kid, and a lot of this is due to my friends raising him well. They aren't his biological parents, but they chose to raise him and love him. It's not about a single choice or a title, it's about a lifestyle choice and daily decisions. Adoption is a great example of the difference between being a father and being a dad. Every kid has a father and a mother. Not every kid has a dad and mom.
Leaders aren't made by making a decision here or there. We call those managers.
Leadership isn't that different. So often we want the title of leader. We feel we need the "manager" title or the c-level on our business card. It doesn't matter. Your job title doesn't make you a leader just like fathering a child doesn't make you a parent. Leadership is a lifestyle and a responsibility. It means everything you do is filtered through the people you lead. It means you work to support your team. It means you challenge yourself to be better for your team. Leaders aren't made by making a decision here or there. We call those managers. Leadership is found in the everyday stuff. The loving discipline. The informal conversations. The depths of a challenge and the joys of a victory. The time spent together. That's where the real leadership happens.
Don't chase a job title, a position, or a decision. Build a lifestyle of leadership. Commit to the responsibility of leadership.