Those that know me well know that I can’t say no. I like my father, and his father, and I am sure like many fathers before them in the Judy line will give you the shirt off your back if you asked. I have always been drawn to servant leaders, probably because I have had that modeled for me by many of my closest friends and family. Servant leadership is living life in the trenches.
Much like my dad and my grandads, I have been drawn to historical leaders that have modeled this style of leadership. Like George Washington and my personal favorite, Teddy Roosevelt. The embody what it is like to be a leader in the trenches. Now I am sure you are all familiar with his Man in the Arena speech. The line that sticks out to me is “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood”. He is in the trenches. Day in and day out. In the arena, not afraid to get dirty, or afraid of a little hard work. The servant leader knows the taste of both victory and defeat.
What does a life in the trenches look like today? Taking on the project at work when you know there will be no glory. Doing the thankless task day in and day out. Putting the team, or your family before yourself. Volunteering your time on the weekends for your favorite charity or organization. Working behind the scenes, knowing that you will never be in the spot light. Changing the diaper in the middle of the night when you can’t even keep your eyes open.
Will you win an award for a life in the trenches, probably not. You could go about the task without even a thank you. But that’s the point. It’s not about you. A life in the trenches is about serving. That means less of you and more of them.
I saw this picture and I cannot escape this image. This is what servant leadership looks like. It’s not glamorous, but “the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena”. Or, the man in the trenches. Make a conscious effort everyday to live life in the trenches, as a servant leader.