Save the Cheerleader

Last month, 24,000 people took to the streets to participate in the Boston
. For many, this was not a competition against others, but with
themselves. These people pushed themselves to extraordinary physical and mental
limits. It was a sight to be seen and felt. The energy from the runners was
inspiring and the energy from the crowd, intoxicating.

While posts here have been scattershot, I have noticed the reference to my
children in writing to be more frequent in past months than in past years. Over
time I have realized if I had put as much effort and drive into my personal life
as my professional, perhaps I would have made different choices. I relay this to
you only because I am seeing things through a bit of a different lens and trying
to learn and accept the present, the blend of both worlds. And so, I learned a
new lesson as I dragged my kidlette three blocks to watch the marathoners fly
down Beacon Street.

Of course, as we watched the various athletes I ensured I took the
opportunity to speak to my daughter about the perseverance of these people, how
much time, energy and commitment they dedicated to this race, and discuss the
difference between a sprint and a marathon. However, I fear my comments were a
monologue and did not register as deeply as I desired. My seven-year old was not
instantly transformed into a possessed spirit aspiring to become a world-class
athlete. Instead, she was fascinated by the crowds cheering on the roadside.

Let me set the scene.

Despite the characters we saw run past us in a bunny costume and glitter
gold wings, this child took more interest in the common folks cheering for
family, friends and strangers alike. We inched our way slowly to the front of
the line, so she could squeeze in between the screaming adults to see the
athletes. As she scanned her surroundings, she inquired why all the people
stayed to cheer for others they did not know. If she cheered, would that make a
difference to the marathoners? Would they hear her screams and clapping?

And this is where I had an aha moment.

Starting my career in the online world, I found it took hard work, but I
gained recognition and found my voice. I {felt} like a leader. The longer I
participated in the social web, the less leadership or voice I felt I had…the
clutter and noise seemed to drown out all else and it has become increasingly
difficult to separate from the pack.

Light bulb.

Sometimes it is not about separating from the pack, but celebrating the
throngs of people alongside, behind and ahead of you. It is giving credit where
credit is due and realizing that is is not always about you. Standing up and
being a leader is great and what many of us aspire to be, but the world would
not be able to function if all of us were leaders. There is a time and a place
for us to rise up and take leadership and ownership, while other times, we have
to be the cheerleader.

So, on that beautiful spring day, my kidlette and I cheered on complete
strangers and spurred them on to be better than they dreamed…to blaze a path for
us to follow.

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  • Anonymous

    Save the
    cheerleader for sure. I really like your post. Leader or cheerleader? I would
    think that most of the time I am neither, but I like to jump into one of these
    categories from time to time. I first thought that I wanted to be a leader after a few months on twitter but then I figured out that it was more fun and rewarding to make friends. And cheerleading is always rewarding, even more when you give without expecting something back. Funny thing is that I tend to have something back quite often, the best outcome being to make a new friend/meet someone interesting.

    So “save the cheerleader” indeed.

    PS: was the title a reference to Heroes (TV series) or is it just pure coincidence?

    • Lauren

      Spot on…it is really about being flexible to jump into either role at the right time. It is the age-old lesson of helping others does help yourself. I think this may have gotten lost in the social media shuffle. (And yes, the post title is in reference to the TV series, Heroes. I am a fan.)

      • Anonymous

        I think that some people don’t recognize the importance of helping other in the scial media shuffle (as you say) but a lot of people are figuring out that they are missing something and are changing their atttitude. I see more and more people ready and happy to give back or cheer after a while when they find their balance in the social media world. Talked about this today with some “friends” on my TL, and it seems that a lot of people first thought about having people looking at them (as leaders) was the main idea of twitter but now they consider it as a real Social media; socializing more like in your “real life” by connecting with people not by being self centered.

  • Dayngr

    It sounds like you were hoping to give your kidlette some inspiring life lessons that day and instead she gave one to you and in turn, us all. Brilliant! I believe it was Will Rogers who said “We can’t all be heroes, because somebody has to sit on the curb and applaud when they go by.” Well done!

  • Ed Sullivan

    As someone who had the wonderful privilege to run Boston a year ago, I am deeply moved by your reference because it was the crowds of anonymous folks who carried me through to the end. This year I was a cheerleader.
    You are spot on because there are great parallels in life, and you have given me an a-ha moment this morning!