I recently heard an inspired talk by a wonderful the leader Robin Mednick. Robin founded the not for profit organization called Pencils for Kids. Her organization is dedicated to “Making a difference in the world by providing every child the opportunity for an education.”
Her inspiration came when she heard about a school in Niger where 30 kids shared one pencil.
She shared a story of the pencil with me. The message can help all of us can remember what it is to be human, how to be a leader, and that our presence in the world makes a difference.
The pencil maker took the pencil aside, just before putting it into the box.
“There are five things you need to know before I send you out into the world,” he said. “Always remember these five things, and you’ll be a great pencil.
ONE: You are capable of many great things, but only if you allow yourself to be held in someone’s hand.
TWO: You will experience a painful sharpening from time to time, but you’ll need it to become a better pencil.
THREE: You have the ability to correct the mistakes you make.
FOUR: The most important part of you will always be what’s inside.
FIVE: On every surface where you are used, regardless of its condition, you must leave your mark.
The pencil understood and promised to remember.
I love this pencil story. I keep a sharpened pencil on my desk to remind me of its message about leadership responsibility.
Here are a few of my takeaways:
The pencil reminds me to allow myself to be held in someone’s hand rather than being a lone ranger. I find collaboration often results in a better experience, but sometimes I’m too impatient and need to remember.
I look to the pencil when I’ve experienced a painful sharpening. My sharpened pencil reminds me to stop feeling like a victim, learn and come to terms with my mistake, and proactively make a correction.
Humbling and human.
And I find the message of leaving a mark on every surface I’m used quite edgy and daring. Really? Make a mark on every surface?
When I take this leadership message to heart, I find the courage to speak up rather than feeling like an imposter whose perspective offers no value.
I invite you to consider what personal leadership messages the pencil metaphor offers you. You may be surprised and grateful.
And visit Robin’s website at www.pencilsforkids.com
Thanks for watching. Bye for now.