When I was in grade school, twice a year we were bused to the high school to see the junior and senior class plays. Each of these events was always a thrilling, novel change in our everyday schedule.
In 1965, the thrill was especially heightened because my sister, Sylvia, had the female cast lead. To see her on the stage, the center of attention, was an enduring inspiration for me.
As I progressed through my school years, I kept this vision of being on stage just like Sylvia. Finally, one day the loudspeaker informed us that the junior class play try-outs were to be held later in the day. I was scared but determined to do my best.
Miss Morris, my English teacher and play director, handed me the script and I read it silently trying to plan the appropriate vocal inflections just like Sylvia did. With the best of luck, I was chosen for the lead and a surge of exhilaration struck me.
The play came and went and the experience was placed in a special place in my mind, which I accessed frequently. It made me realize I could make and achieve an important goal.
The next year, the senior play was scheduled for October and once again I put my hat in the ring. I was sure I would be chosen given my past success. However, we had a new play director who was also my teacher for Problems of American Democracy (PAD). I was handed another foreign script and gave it my most expressive read in front of my classmates. Just like my plan, I was awarded the lead.
Again, I was filled with excitement until the director informed us that play practice would begin the following day immediately after school. I was stunned. There was no way I could participate because the planned play practice coincided with football practice. I vehemently protested, “We have to move the rehearsal. I have football practice.” The teacher was sympathetic but unwilling to practice so late into the evening given she had a 50-mile drive home.
I felt crushed but I had to prioritize. Later, at home, I poured out the sad turn of events to Mom and a tear rolled down my cheek.
The play went on without me. One of my best friends won the lead and if the truth be told probably did a better job than I would have.
This was one of the first major choices between two very attractive options I had to make. I learned that not every possibility is available simultaneously. Sometimes you have to give up something good to get something better. All of our decisions in life prepare us to be the leaders we are. Disappointment and exhilaration are the building blocks helping us to make the right decisions in the future.
Leaders don’t always make the best decisions but looking back on our decision-making history helps us be more effective with today’s choices.
R. Glenn Ray, Ph.D., is the president of RayCom Learning. To learn more about Ray’s completely revised, third printing of “The Facilitative Leader: Behaviors that Enable Success,” visit his Web site, www.raycomlearning.com or call him at 740-629-4536. Everyday Leadership appears each Wednesday on the Business page.