July 25, 2014

Rockwell to CUs: Let your fire guide you

July 25, 2014 – Ever been told "don't add fuel to the fire" in times of controversy or stress? Ignore that, says Dan Rockwell, because to be a really good leader and an inspiration to future leaders, you have to find your fire.

Rockwell is the author of the world-famous blog Leadership Freak, and he spent an hour before a ballroom-full of rapt Annual Conference general session attendees Thursday talking about how the people who rise to greatness are focused not so much on how to do a thing but how to be who they are. And that requires finding one's fire – the thing they are passionate about and love to do – and doing it.

The early leaders of the credit union movement are an example, he said. "Anything of significance that is ever done, fire is behind it," he said. "There is a fire in you . . . [you say] we own this, we have members, not customers … There was fire somewhere, because everything meaningful, everything that changes something in any dramatic way starts with fire."

He cited numerous examples of folks who found their fire and made a difference to those they touched. Among them:

  • Carl Stotz, the lumberyard clerk who in 1938 founded baseball's Little League;
  • Frances Hesselbein, who rejuvenated the Girl Scouts of the USA and was recognized with the Presidential Medal of Freedom for it;
  • Jim Parker, CEO of Southwest Airlines, who led that organization in the aftermath of 9/11;
  • Michael Phelps – Olympian great who left swimming in 2012 to return to it this April.

Rockwell – who worked numerous mentions of NAFCU leaders into his remarks, including newly elected Chair Ed Templeton – said real leaders present themselves with authenticity and, in doing so, show others how to become leaders themselves.