I grew up in the small farming community of Milverton, Ontario, in Perth County just north of Stratford. Arden Barker was a farmer, local politician, and well-known community builder. His wife Helen was also very active in the community and wrote a weekly newspaper column filled with her wit, experiences, observations, and philosophies. Helen was highly engaged in life and made everyone she met feel like she got up that day just to make you feel important.
Helen died in 2005. A tribute to her life was held at the Milverton arena and community center, because no other building in the area could hold the large crowd that attended. Helen was a strong supporter of my writing, so her daughter Brenda asked me to read a piece I’d written about the power of recognition, appreciation, and celebration in Growing the Distance: Timeless Principles for Personal, Career, and Family Success. It was an old Barker family story that reinforced appreciating what we’ve accomplished rather than focusing on what we lack.
During the celebration of Helen’s life, Brenda and other speakers reviewed all that Helen had endured: the sudden death of her son Tom at age 19; Arden’s premature death at 59; adopting and raising two abused teenage girls later in Helen’s life; her years of battling cancer, and other disasters and losses. To her last day, Helen remained thankful for all that life gave her, positive, and concerned with others and the community. It was a unique opportunity to reflect on the life and legacy of a strong leader.
Events like these are times to reflect on what’s really important. Happiness research confirms what most of us intuitively know: living a purposeful, meaningful life aligned around our personal values and strengths is critical to enjoying a successful journey for the short time we’re traveling on this earth.
Today we publish my September blogs in the October issue of The Leader Letter. This issue provides a range of perspectives on leadership. Alvin Law and the “Yes, I Can,” video illustrate resilience and the power of positivity — much like Helen showed in her life. Leadership lessons from our workshops and global trends show the enduring and universal themes of core leadership principles and the huge impact leaders have on engagement levels. Ultimately, leadership effectiveness grows from personal and organizational growth and development. If you aren’t a subscriber, click here to sign up.