A few days ago I stumbled upon a Tedx Toronto talk, given by Drew Dudley in 2010. This short talk, which I found to be refreshingly funny, focused on the idea of redefining leadership. Dudley commented that the concept of leadership has been made into something that we consider as bigger than us, beyond us, and we have made it about changing the world. The desire to change the world is certainly a noble goal, however, Dudley suggests that leadership is not always about changing the world… often the best examples of leadership can be found in our simple, and everyday, action. He goes on to suggest that such small actions can make a tremendous impact on the lives of others.

I began my career as a Registered Nurse, working in a major hospital in Calgary. It was a busy and high intensity patient care unit. One afternoon, on my way to work, I stopped at a coffee shop. While in line to get my latte I was tapped on the shoulder by a woman. She introduced herself and indicated that she was the daughter of a patient that I had nursed almost two years earlier. I had no recollection of the patient, nor of the daughter standing in line next to me. Incredibly, I also had no memory of the story she proceeded to tell me.

Her mother had not been doing well one evening during her stay in hospital, so she had decided to stay the night and sleep at her mother’s bedside. During my evening rounds I came into her mother’s room and placed a warm blanket over her. Then I turned to her, the daughter, and handed her a warm blanket as well. In the coffee shop she explained to me that it had been a terribly emotional and stressful day for her and her family, and receiving the warm blanket had made her feel cared for, and comforted. I was stunned. Such a seemingly simple act had created enough of an impact that she remembered it years later. I was, and still am, very grateful that we crossed paths in that coffee shop.

Drew Dudley makes this powerful statement, “If we can change one person’s understanding of what they are capable of, one person’s understanding of how much people care about them, or one person’s understanding of how powerful an agent for change they can be in this world”, we are, in fact, changing the world. Leadership isn’t about the corner office or the pay cheque, it’s about the everyday, simple acts that make a difference in the lives of others.

Reflecting on your own story, who has made the biggest impact in your life? What did they say, or do, to change your thinking and actions? How has someone told you about the difference that you have made in his or her life? I’d love to hear about your stories and experiences of everyday leadership.

If you would like to view Drew Dudley’s Tedx Toronto talk, please click on the link below

Drew Dudley on “Everyday Leadership”