Byron's Babbles

Leadership Lessons of Mt. St. Helens

Posted in Coaching, Leadership by Dr. Byron L. Ernest on August 28, 2011

Mt. St. Helens, often described by souvenir brochures as having a quiet beauty and unspoiled nature began to come alive in March of 1980.

On May 18, 1980, at 8:39 a.m., Mt. St. Helens erupted with the explosive force of 500 atomic bombs. Seventeen hundred feet were blown from the top of the mountain sending a cloud of ash and smoke for more than 60,000 feet into the atmosphere. The cloud gave those in its path a gritty taste of natures power. The Indians had most appropriately named this place “Fire Mountain.”

I have been blessed, because of meetings, to be at Mt. St. Helens twice in the last year. The second time, when I took the attached picture, I was able to take my family. While in the area, my wife bought me a beautiful ring with incredible green crystals. When I asked what the gems were she explained it was Mt. St. Helens Jewelry – Jewelry made from volcanic ash processed by heating at high temperatures and under tremendous pressure to cause the ash to turn to a crystallized state. These green (because of the copper) gems are then cut and polished to make the beautiful piece of jewelry shown below.

Then as I was reading Max De Pree’s Leadership is an Art and Leadership Jazz this week I realized De Pree‘s lessons were perfectly illustrated by this Mt. St. Helen Jewelry. Leadership is an art, that like the gems made from ash, is shaped and polished. But before the crystal is even formed the ash must undergo tremendous heat and pressure, just as a leader does. The leader must turn these challenges and problems into opportunities.

Then the leader, like the beautiful gem, must be shaped and polished. Polishing takes others help. Shaping takes us finding our voice and what we believe in. Polishing involves us studying and being involved in professional growth. Shaping involves us helping others – becoming servant leaders. Finally, polishing involves us reflecting.

So let’s not forget that we need to become artists and work hard at polishing and shaping the leadership gem that we are capable of becoming. Also, we must help to polish and shape the leadership crystals of others. Go out and use your artistic abilities to polish and shape someone today!

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