Leadership Lessons from a Kid and a Kite

A Valuable Kid and a Cheap Kite

Even as we were engaged in the activity yesterday afternoon, I could feel the inspiration for this article welling up inside of me. And as I stand at my desk today, I am convinced that the value is in the kid and not the kite.

Recently, we went away for the weekend with two of our three grandchildren. My wife, the consummate planner, planned way more activities that we had time for. As a result of that, we had a couple of Dollar Store kites that were not opened and waiting to be tried by the grandkids. So, we walked down to the neighborhood elementary school and we opened the package and took out the kite. We put Rod “A” in Slot “B” and attached String “C” to Ring “D” and we were ready to launch.

There was only one problem. There was not much breeze.

What do you if you are a child and someone hands you a kite? You RUN! You run and pull the kite along as it drifts just a few feet above the ground. You run in giant circles in the parking lot of the school until your little legs are too tired and you collapse onto the ground. Your kite falls to the pavement. No wind = no flying.

What is the Leadership Lesson?

What is the leadership lesson in trying to fly a cheap kite with no wind? It is this. There must be a force pushing against the kite in order for it to rise. Running creates a small force, but it is not sustainable. The kite will only “fly” for the amount of time that you run around in circles. In order to really experience a kite as it should be experienced, you need the force of a steady breeze to keep the kite aloft. Too much breeze (huge wind) and the kite spars will snap and the kite will collapse and fall. Not enough breeze and we will tire ourselves out making the kite look like it is flying when in reality we are just pulling it along a few feet above the ground.

Leaders Need a Little Breeze

I am convinced that we will not soar as leaders under our own strength. This is tantamount to running in circles until we collapse from exhaustion. Instead, we need the steady breeze to gently push against us in order to rise above the ground and reach the limits of the spool of string. What kinds of “breeze” do we need?

The Breeze of Adversity – Leadership is never easy. And we need a little adversity from time to time to push us to higher and higher heights. We do not grow in the good times. We grow in the hard times.

Leaders Need a Little Structure and Stability

Structure and Stability – A cheap kite is not all that airworthy. It lacks the structure and stability of a well-made kite. Likewise, we need structure and stability in our leadership if we are going to soar.

Leaders Need the Right Location

Location – Sometimes leadership is like the value of a piece of real estate. It is all about location, location, location. You should not fly a kite around power lines or in busy streets. Likewise, sometimes we are just in the wrong location for leadership to succeed. One of the hardest things that you have to do from time to time is to realize that the current situation is not suitable for leadership. The followers already know it. We need to acknowledge it.

The Value is in the Kid – Not the Kite

Above all, I realized yesterday afternoon that the value is in the kid and not the kite.  The kite is just an extension of the kid in many ways. An expensive and custom-made kite was not going to fly yesterday. There just wasn’t enough breeze. So, all of the flying was as a result of the child who was running back and forth in the parking lot. Kites will get stuck in trees, they will snap the string and fly away, and they sometimes break under the strain of wind too powerful for their structure. But the child remains.

You and I are like that child. And the kite represents our leadership success. In the end, the height of the kite in the air is just a measurement of the success at that particular point in time. Tomorrow may be calm. No kite will fly on that day. Tomorrow the spar will snap and the string will break. No kite will fly.

So, let’s focus on the child (the leader). Let’s pray for just a little adversity to be the breeze to lift us higher. Let’s pray for a structurally sound kite. Even a cheap kite will fly under the right conditions. Let’s pray for the right location where we have room to launch and be free of trees and wires.

Are you focused on the kid or the kite?






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I am the husband of a beautiful and wonderful woman. I am the father of two of the greatest kids on the planet. I am a father-in-law to a great young woman. And I am Papa to three very special grandchildren. In my spare time I am an active blogger and writer. And if there is any time left over, I work with small non-profit organizations and churches on the topics of change management, crisis intervention and leadership development.

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