Appreciating Our Leaders

When you receive wise counsel, it’s not a hypothetical in a book; it’s wisdom applied to your life. Receive it and say, “Thank you.”[1]

This is a short story about a fearless trailblazer I admire who is going through some very difficult times. She recently stood before me and wept quietly as she told of the injustice she was having to endure in her professional role, and all I could do was offer comfort. What else could I do? She had done everything right. Her cause was worthy. She was being accused unjustly and the hope of prevailing in her fight was bleak. That day I realized how easy it is to underappreciate those who contribute to the betterment of our profession at great personal costs.

In fact, I think that sometimes we don’t realize let alone appreciate what is going on behind the scenes in many areas of our industry. As I’ve participated in discussion groups, boards of directors, advisory councils, and in the profession itself, I’ve learned how the efforts each of us make every day is only the tip of the iceberg. There is still so much to do.

I suppose if our industry were a money-generating operation, we would have been able to throw enough capital and talent at it by now that everything would be streamlined, state-of-the-art, all tied up in a bow with airtight legislation to back it. The reality is we are working with Constitutional laws, money-strained government organizations, and even politically charged issues. Providing language access costs money. Doing it right is even more expensive. Like so many things, the issues we face in attempting to develop and implement best practices take time and resolve to handle.

As strides are made to create programs and controls in support of our profession, we must recognize the countless hours dedicated by volunteers who may be long retired before they see their efforts come to fruition. We are constantly changing, yes, but the upward trend is hard to see from within. It’s only when we step back that we can perceive how far we’ve come. But it gets better: there are some who are actually making that happen. Sadly, they are often the ones least appreciated and most misunderstood.

As we see things change around us, let’s commit to doing our part, but also to supporting those who lead us and appreciating those who have vivid institutional memory. In a sense, they are the veterans of our professional war. When they tire, we must be informed and ready to begin where they left off.

Going back to my friend, I know she’s going to be okay. She has fought battles like this before, and her tears will surely serve as a reminder to take time for herself as she leads the rest of us in a positive direction. In her honor, dear reader, think of the people around you who make your professional or personal life better, and please thank them for all they do. Surely you’ve benefitted from their wise counsel, and perhaps their blood, sweat, and tears. Oh, and pay it forward by participating actively in your profession. Every little bit helps.



9 thoughts on “Appreciating Our Leaders”

  1. Gio Lester says:

    Thank you, Jennifer! We all need a reminder like yours. Trailblazers. Pioneers. Spearheads. Heroes.

    1. Jennifer De La Cruz says:

      Thanks, Gio, Rosemary, and Judith. Nice to hear from you all!

      As I think more about how I treat the leaders in my life, sometimes it’s really an active effort to appreciate them. It’s easy to focus on what’s in it for me, and to think, “Well, that’s what they signed up for.” That may be true, but there is often a personal cost and we have to remember that there’s a minimum expectation that so many exceed and probably aren’t thanked enough for. In the meantime, we can end up feeling called to participate in efforts that may benefit ourselves and our profession in the end. It’s a win-win.

  2. Rosemary Dann says:

    Thanks for the reminder, Jennifer. I send positive energy in the hope that your friend prevails.

  3. Judith Kenigson Kristy says:

    What a wonderful blog – so eloquently stated and so true. Thanks for these wise words — we all stand on the shoulders of others! I wish your friend the best of luck.

    1. Jennifer De La Cruz says:

      Thank you, all, for your kind replies!

  4. Janis Palma says:

    Jennifer, this is the first NAJIT blog I read and it was almost scary. I had a situation much like your friend’s, except that mine happened many years ago. Please tell your friend that even if right now she feels like the world is caving in, if she did the right thing and is being unjustly accused… time is on her side. It’s not great consolation when you’re going through it, but the truth always comes out… sooner or later! In will in her case, too. She is very fortunate to have you for a friend.

  5. Janis Palma says:

    I should have clarified it was “scary” because I had just been thinking about what happened to me years ago and then I go read your blog and it really struck a familiar chord! Thank you for writing it.

    1. Jennifer De La Cruz says:

      Amazing how things happen like that, huh? All for our learning!

  6. Hi Gio,

    What a beautiful gesture. Friends like you, make life a lot easier, specially when fighting for what is right is often paid with injustice and lack of gratitude.

    I hope everything works out for your friend, and in the meantime, I am sure she will find comfort in your friendship.

    Take care,

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