Fearless: What a 13-year-old girl can teach you about leadership

Something I don’t mention in my “about the blogger” section of Follow that Leader is that I’m a proud uncle. I have three extremely beautiful nieces and three incredibly charming nephews.

Two weeks ago I learned that my oldest niece (Abby, age 13) auditioned for a singing competition held across her entire school district and was chosen out of a total of 60 contestants as one of the ten finalists in the junior division. When we heard the news my wife and I looked at each other, and without having to say a word, we agreed that we wouldn’t miss her performance for the world.

I was 12 years old when Abby was born, but I remember that day like it was yesterday. I was excited because I was going to be an uncle for the first time and was at the hospital the day she joined us.

Watching her grow over the past 13 years has been an amazing experience. I saw her terrible twos, her toddler years and everything else before she became a teenager, but the last few years have probably been the best. I especially enjoy taking her shopping and slipping her a little cash once in a while (also known as spoiling). Up until this year I’ve known her to be a little shy. She was quiet, reserved and often times easily embarrassed. That’s why when I heard she was going to sing in front of an audience of strangers I was beyond impressed.


Abby Owens, age 13.

I wish I could tell you that Abby won the singing competition, but the truth is that she missed a line in her song. What she did, or actually, what she didn’t do after she missed a line is where a valuable lesson is taught: she didn’t quit. She hummed the tune of the song until she could pick right back up on the next line. She could have melted down. She could have run off stage. She could have given up.

Abby knew the risks of performing in front of an audience before she signed up. Despite her small mistake, she was fearless. She might not realize it now, but she displayed remarkable strength and leadership qualities by remaining on that stage. I will forever be proud of her and remember how brave she was the next time I get a little nervous.

Here is a great quote to think about in closing:

“Leaders are visionaries with a poorly developed sense of fear and no concept of the odds against them. They make the impossible happen.” ~Dr. Robert Jarvik


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