Byron's Babbles

Significance, Influence, & Leadership

IMG_3517It has been said that leadership is influence. This is so true, and I was reminded of this today. I had the honor of being part of a book launch and signing at one of our local Barnes and Noble stores today for author, Eugene M. Helveston MD. He wrote the book The Second Decade: Raising Kids to be Happy, Self-Sufficient Adults through Work (2016). I learned of the book through Indiana Speaker of the House, Brian Bosma. He sent me a copy of the book and asked that I read it and think about how this book could be used to influence others in helping to develop and educate our children. I was excited to get the book and, of course, immediately read it. Come on, the Speaker of the House sends you a book and asks you to read it, well, you read it! And…of course, I started tweeting about it. Next thing you know I’m tweeting back and forth with Speaker Bosma and, lo and behold I’m suddenly tweeting with Dr. Helveston. Then, I’m being invited to attend a book signing via twitter. I continue to be amazed by the power of twitter. Well, of course I am going to the book signing – one of my most valued collections is of my author signed books. So, now that I have set the stage let’s get to some content in this post.IMG_3516

It was such an honor to have Speaker Bosma introduce me to Dr. Helveston before the event started. Little did I know I was being introduced by a man, Speaker Bosma, who has had a great deal of influence on me (to read about that, click here) to another man, Dr. Helveston, who would influence me immensely in just the few minutes of visiting and listening to him speak at the event. One of the most powerful things he said to me was, “This research and book is a project I have started really late in my life and career.” With this statement he had me hooked as someone who absolutely knows how to be significant in life. As a believer that there is no such thing as retirement – only significance in the second half, I was certain I had met an icon of being significant, not just successful. This has been a topic of interest of mine for some time now. In fact I have blogged about it in “Significance: Impacting Outside Yourself.”

IMG_3521As we talked, it was evident that Dr. Helveston wants to continue to have an influence on the world and particularly on our youth. He wants to find influential ways to have the ideas and framework brought forth in his book to really make a difference. Make no mistake, Dr. Helveston is a successful doctor, but I was truly in the presence of an influential and significant person and leader. There were individuals in attendance who were mentioned in the book and I could quickly see the influence this great man had on their lives. This very humble man clearly has had an influence on everyone he has come in contact with and is significant. Leaders, like Dr. Helveston, that strive to be significant seek to create the greatest impact and influence.  These are the types of leaders that we value the most; inspired by their courage and resiliency, we seek to emulate them. Here I was in the presence of two such leaders – Dr. Helveston and Speaker Bosma. These are the leaders that can get the most out of very little, are grateful for the opportunity to lead, and always treat others like family. It was very evident from all the stories that every patient of Dr. Helveston became family. Speaker Bosma told the story of how they had met when he became the doctor of his son. Now, years later, there is still a very close relationship between Dr. Helveston and the Bosma family. IMG_3522

Great leaders are the most memorable, influential, and significant. They go about their day leveraging their distinction by leading in ways that come most naturally to them. This is so true, because I might not even had read the book had there not been a leader in my life that turned me on to reading. Had there not been a Mrs. Wilking in my life I might not have become the leader I have because I would not have had the learning from reading I have been afforded. You can learn of the birth of my love of reading by checking out “Reading Big Red.” Click here to read the post. Significant leaders are those who enjoy sharing their wisdom and secrets of success. Dr. Helveston has certainly done this in his book. Leadership is a process of influencing others. Dr. Helveston is without a doubt influencing others with the framework for developing our children suggested in this book.

The Second Decade: Raising Kids to be Happy, Self-Sufficient Adults through Work (2016) is an incredible book that really makes you think and want to take action. I wrote the following in both my Goodreads and Amazon five start review of the book:

“Everyone who is a parent, teacher, or in a position to influence children either directly or by policy should read this book! In this book, Dr. Helveston recognizes the need for what I will call internships – meaningful work. The five actions developed in this book of:
1. Plan ahead for a quality education pursued with an eye on the future;
2. Learn life lessons and useful skills from the work you perform and the people you meet;
3. Seek advice and inspiration from mentors throughout your life;
4. Recognized that nothing is accomplished without time and effort; and
5. Pursue honest and productive work
are well developed, researched, and referenced so the reading can use the book as a guide. This book can serve as a framework for anyone who believes as I do, that helping parents teach their children to gain academic skills through a quality education and acquire practical skills learned by working is an invaluable component to a lifetime of success. Again, this is the must read book of all who want success for all children.”

IMG_3523Dr. Helveston posited in the book that there is an important activity that seems to be getting lost amid meaningless structure—holding down a job outside the home, for money. He argued that more than any other activity, work adds meaning to the knowledge learned in books and gives depth to the values instilled at home. I really agree with this and the research would concur. In fact, this is why I believe internships are so important in young people’s lives. This workplace development orientation requires inculcating good character traits within the young person, which will help them to carry out their professional respon­sibilities throughout the rest of their lives.

The idea of the “inclusive middle class” is one that really jumped out at me in the book. This really drove home why it is important for us to make sure we are carrying out and teaching our children the five actions listed above. Dr. Helveston said:

“But the future offers a two-way street. A position attained is never guaranteed. A person can attain more or accomplish less. Success can be in the form of financial security or with the attainment of other worthwhile goals. In either case, it takes effort to keep and possibly improve one’s place in society.” ~ Dr. Eugene Helveston (2016, p. 25) 

Those who understand this will certainly have a leg up in society. We have an obligation to the children of the world to be providing them with the experiences to learn these facts. One way to formalize this would be to ramp up our internship programs both at the post-secondary level and in our high school programs. What better way to give our students the real life experiences necessary to help them be successful, happy, and functional citizens. Dr. Helveston’s book provides a guide and framework for educators, parents, and policymakers to help our children understand what opportunities are available to them and facilitate the journey to become their best selves.


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