Father’s Day 2019 and Quintessential Leadership

Posted: June 16, 2019 in Examples and Analyses of Quintessential Leadership
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Dr. Ned Moses Ross, DVMThe first quintessential leader I ever knew and the one I knew best was my father. A man of integrity, intelligence, and wisdom, my dad was also one of the most humble, caring, and generous people who ever walked the earth. 

Daddy was a family man. Although he worked hard – “whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might – his devotion to God and to his family always came first.

Daddy was a deep man, a thinker. I suppose all those years growing up on a large family farm in Burlington, NC, spending hours alone, with just a mule and a plow, working the fields from February or March to October or November (after school during the school year and then 12-14 hours a day during the summer) gave Daddy a lot of time to think. And because he was a reader, he always had plenty to think about.

Daddy wanted his children to think critically about everything. He and Mama both impressed upon us the importance of questioning everything for its veracity. I think I probably drove them a little crazy once awhile because I basically came out of the womb questioning everything. Mama would always tell everyone that instead of my first word being “Mama” or “Dada,” it was “Why?”

But no matter how tired sometimes Daddy must have gotten of my questions – which were sometimes directed at something he or Mama had told me to do – he always took the time to answer and to explain. That’s a rare trait in parents who have three kids essentially the same age, but Daddy was also a very patient man.

Daddy was a coach, leading his children toward the essential traits of quintessential leadership. He taught us the importance of having integrity, serving others, thinking for ourselves (and not following the crowd), and the value of common sense.

Integrity meant honesty, authenticity, keeping our word, upholding the family name, and being unimpeachable in our character.

Serving others was in accordance with Christ’s instructions in Matthew 6: not keeping record or score of everything we’d done for or given to others, nor doing things to be seen and heard and to have people praise us and tell us how wonderful we were. Instead, serving others was not letting the left hand know what the right hand was doing, and giving generously from the heart.

I know Daddy did this in every part of his life for all of his life, but even Mama didn’t know (until after Daddy died when a cousin told her) that for the 30 years of their marriage that her Aunt Tilda was alive, Daddy sent her money every month – and would also leave an envelope of cash when we’d visit on July 4th and Thanksgiving each year – to help supplement her Social Security income.

Common sense, according to Daddy, was more important than intelligence. I can’t tell you how many times I heard him say – usually to me – that, “all the intelligence in the world doesn’t amount to a hill of beans if you don’t have common sense,” or “it doesn’t matter how smart you are if you can’t think your way out of a paper bag.”

Using North Carolina aphorisms, what Daddy was teaching was that intelligence was simply knowledge, but common sense was correctly applying and using knowledge. Knowledge by itself is useless. It has to be taken and put into action in a meaningful and productive way that accomplishes something.

Daddy would be appalled at the dystopian world we live in now, where lies are truth, hate is love, and war is peace. He would be dismayed at how knowledge and common sense have disappeared into the shadows, exercised by only a few people here and there on the planet.

Daddy would grieve over our inhumanity to each other, where we ostensibly may give the appearance of serving others, but it’s so often only so we can get recognition and be exalted and praised, while behind the scenes, we’re keeping score and track of everything we do for someone else instead of simply giving generously, with no agenda, from the heart. He would point to our generous Father in heaven and ask, “Do you think He has a spreadsheet with all the blessings He’s poured out on us so that when it hits a certain number, He will say, “No more?” 

Daddy would mourn over the disappearance of integrity from every corner of life, and the greed, the dishonesty, the lack of trustworthiness, and the lack of authenticity that has replaced it.

I miss the first quintessential leader in my life very much on the one hand, but on the other, I’m glad he’s been spared seeing what we’ve come to.

But I’m thankful and appreciative for all his coaching all the time we were able to share together as father and daughter. I miss his wisdom, his gentleness, his mercy, and his love, but I take hope in the promises for him and for me in the future.

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you and I’ll see you soon!

 

 

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