Home Concepts Concepts of Leadership Community Engagement Senior Leadership in Community: Interview with Norman Westmore

Senior Leadership in Community: Interview with Norman Westmore

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A second peak experience was again family-related. For a period of time, my relationship with my own two daughters was more distant than close and loving. This was because there was stuff we hadn’t dealt with. I came to the conclusion that I could not force my daughters to love me or see the good things that I did. I just had to be who I was, and I had faith that as they and I opened-up with one another we were going to keep working on our relationship and see where it went. The improved relationship occurred at a relatively early age in my daughters’ lives (mid twenties). They are now in their mid-forties and our relationship is very, very close. This was a peak experience because it changed the course of our lives. In looking back, my life and theirs would have been a sad and lonely journey had we concluded we weren’t going to invest any more in our relationships with one another.

19. You probably know other individuals who have sage leadership talents and skills but are not currently involved in the civic life of our community. Why do you  believe they choose to be uninvolved? What, if anything, might be done to get them engaged?

I have several friends who are very capable leaders but have chosen not to get involved civically with our community. There appear to be a number of probable reasons for this. One is that they were very successful in the corporate world, but they have reservations about their own capability of being able to handle the frustration of working with or leading volunteers. Another reason is that some people don’t want to go through the trouble of becoming involved. They are tired and say they don’t want to put up with having to deal with conflict. Still others don’t want to branch-out in establishing new relationships. To some degree, they withdraw and hunker down.

Another characteristic of the talented but uninvolved is that they tend to have a very narrow field of interest. They are just interested in their boat or in playing golf, and that’s it. They were very successful in business. That was their sole focus in life, and they got fulfillment from it. As these kinds of people get older, they tend to become very entrenched with their computer or playing golf with their buddies on Friday.

What to do about talented individuals who haven’t gotten engaged in the civic side of our community? I think those of us who are deeply involved in, say, nonprofit work need to talk with them about our experiences and the passion we have for the missions of these organizations. And to emphasize the personal fulfillment that we get from being deeply involved. This may awaken the interest and passion in others, and it has happened to me several times. For example, there is a person who had retired from the ministry and was looking for a way to get involved in the community. I was working for Habitat. And when I gave him my 30-second elevator speech, his eyes lit up. Suddenly, something clicked. I said, “I’ll tell you what I’ll do. If you are available, my wife and I will swing by on Sunday to pick-up you and your wife and take you to a home dedication for Habitat. Would you like to go?” Well, you can guess the rest of the story. There wasn’t a dry eye during the dedication, and he became so hooked on the organization that he continues on the Habitat Board to this day. I could probably have talked to him for hours, but I decided to take the extra step and personally involve him in something that would move him. Most individuals have something in them like this. If we can help to awaken it, we can unlock something that will enrich their lives.

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