Inspiration and lessons for your leadership journey!
48.5 million Americans, or nearly 16%, live in poverty (as defined by the federal government).1
Let me tell you a true story…
Johnny got up excitedly from his fourth grade desk, one day last week. It was lunchtime! He wasn’t thinking about his single mom who scraped by on a part-time job at WalMart or his estranged dad or the grumbling in his tummy. No, Johnny was thinking about pizza. He was especially excited about lunch today because it was Pizza Day! The students all loved Pizza Day!
He hurried off with the other children as they scrambled to get in line and make their way to the school cafeteria. When his turn came, he anxiously watched as the attendant loaded a big slice of pizza on his tray; followed by a serving of fruit and another of vegetables. Finally, a pint of milk finished off the anticipated feast and the attendant handed Johnny his tray. He slid his tray down the familiar chromed bars as he slowly progressed in line waiting to check out.
When his turn came, he knew he was just moments away from a delicious lunch. The cafeteria attendant looked at Johnny, grabbed his tray, and immediately turned and dumped his lunch into a nearby trash can – everything except the milk. Johnny stood shocked in disbelief. Then the attendant slammed down the tray, put the pint of milk back on it, and then reached into a refrigerator and grabbed something. Slap! Johnny stood there looking at a cold, cellophane-wrapped, processed cheese food product sandwich.
“When your mother pays your lunch ticket, then you can have the full lunch. Next!”
Johnny began to turn to walk away with his near-empty tray with a pit in his stomach as he looked down at his tray in disappointment – a cold sandwich and the small red and white square box of milk staring back up at him. He felt like he was one of those characters in a movie he saw about prisoners.
Luckily for Johnny, his teacher saw the whole thing and immediately scrambled into action. She brought Johnny back to the counter, scolded the cafeteria attendant, and paid for Johnny’s full Pizza Day lunch out of her own pocket. She’s had to do this before for many kids.
Some kids aren’t lucky enough to have a teacher who has the heart (and the money) to bail them out from time to time.
When I heard this story, I was utterly shocked and enraged.
Shocked that the attendant literally took and threw away perfectly good food. Shocked that her excuse is ‘that’s what the manager tells me I have to do.’ Shocked that a principal, school board, state government – and thus, all of us – allow this to happen thousands of times each school day across Texas.
I am enraged that in the richest country in the world, our leaders at every level have failed us as citizens and human beings allowing four years in a row of increasing poverty in America while we spend trillions of dollars in ‘too big to fail’ bailouts and the world’s largest war machine in history – all the while justifying rhetoric about ‘budget sequestering,’ Medicare slashes, educational funding cuts, not providing affordable healthcare to citizens, and on and on.
All this is happening while the Dow has reached an historic high and according to the Pew Economic Mobility Project report, as cited in the New York Times, recently, “Compared to the last generation, wealth has become more concentrated in the hands (and bank accounts and houses) of the richest Americans.”
This is not just a failure of leadership of people holding governmental and institutional positions of power and influence; it is a failure of our collective individual leadership! We are all to blame. Commit to change that today.
Don’t miss this week’s video!
This Week's Affirmations
(Repeat these quietly to yourself multiple times throughout the day.)
I do not support leadership that fails those they serve!
I am empathic, concerned, and charitable.
I am a loving, servant leader!
Houston Food Bank
Watch >> Feeding America >>
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Together we can spread words of Encouragement, Inspiration, Empowerment, and Loving Leadership... and wouldn't you agree our world could use a little more "Positivity" these days?
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Have an amazing journey today!
Alan Mikolaj is a a professional, experienced, positive, and passionate speaker, leadership and organizational development consultant, change agent, author, and coach. He holds his Master of Arts degree in Clinical Psychology from Sam Houston State University. He is a certified graduate coach from Coaching Out of the Box and holds his ACC and membership with the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
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In his third book, A Travel Guide to Leadership, Alan offers you simple, fundamental, and powerful lessons that have the power to transform you, your relationships, and your career.