Empowerment to Leadership

Dorice Horenstein Blog - Empowerment to Leadership

Every year at this time, I think of my first day in fourth grade
My mother sent my sister and me on the first day of school, in a city we do not know,  to a school we’d never been to. All by ourselves. 
I was in fourth grade and my sister was in first grade. I was the big sister. I remember arranging the night before the beautifully clean and ironed uniform we had from the previous school. A blue shirt and a dark blue skirt with white socks and shoes. 
My mom said to me “tomorrow you’re going to take your younger sister to school. Make sure she gets to her class and then you find your own class.”
The next day at 6:30 a.m. my alarm went off. I got up, woke up my sister, dressed, ate, and made our way to the central bus station in kfar Saba (our new town) to look for bus number 29.

Let me pause for a second– Who here will send their child on the first day of school by themselves to a new school in a new city taking public transportation? Not many, right?

We arrived at the bus station and saw 20 buses boarding people. Holding my sister’s palm tightly I looked for bus number 29. It was the third bus. I walked, climbed onto the bus, and told the driver I needed to get to my school. I gave him the name of the school and he told me to get off at the third station. Slowly the bus was filling up with people and I held my sister’s hand tightly as we were waiting by the back door.

I counted one bus stop, and two bus stops, and then I asked an older woman who was by me if this is the bus stop I should get off. I remember her looking at me with bewildered eyes. Maybe looking at our uniform (that no one else was wearing) or the fact that we were by ourselves on the bus. Finally, she said yes. When the door swung open, we and many other people got off. We all seemed to go to the same school. Parents and children were holding hands while crossing the street to get to school. 

When we came into the school there was a big plaza and I saw hundreds of children lined up in rows, and parents talking on the sides greeting each other after a long summer vacation. 

I did not know which row to stand so I and my sister sat on the side and watched in amazement. The assembly began. They all started to sing songs we did not know, and after a while, the assembly was dismissed and it was time to go to classrooms.

Parents began returning to their cars and back to their homes. My sister and I were left in the open assembly plaza.

I looked at my sister and she looked at me. I was still holding her hand tightly. I felt the sweat in the palm of my hand. I said to her “let’s go to the principal’s office and find your classroom.” I walked into the building which was hustling and bustling with children and teachers making their own way to their classrooms. 

I found the principal’s office. There were people standing there, greeting each other but one person looked at us and came close and asked how they can help.

I remember saying in a confident manner which I did not feel at the moment that we were looking for the principal. She said, “I am the principal.” And I said, “Hi, my name is Dorice and I would like to know where my sister should go.”

“Are you new to the school?” I replied, “yes.” 

“Who is your mother,” she asked, and “where is she?”

“My mom is working,” I said. “I am here taking care of my sister. And once she will be in her classroom I will find out where I need to go” I said in my little 10-year-old voice.

I could sense that that is not what the principal was used to seeing. 

Is that what you are used to seeing? A parent that instructed their kid in fourth grade to take their sibling in first grade to school which they have never been to, on the first day? 

I thought about this incident many many times. I can view it as a traumatic event. Absorbing the feeling of being deserted. overwhelmed, scared. Or, I can look at it through a different lens. 

I knew that my mother did not have a choice and was working three jobs to support our family and my dad was also working in construction with little flexibility. They did not have the ability to come.

 Or, I could look at it through yet a different lens. The lens of confidence.  My behavior assured my mother of my ability to take care of my sister and myself.

Her belief made me believe in myself. Sometimes we have the hardest time letting go. But when we let go we allow growth to take place. That is what happened to me.

I’m not suggesting that you will take your younger children and put them on the bus by themselves. Or take your new employees and put them in the middle of a project with no safeguard. 

But what can you do to inspire faith and belief in others? Whether they are your employees or our children? 

This is a story about leadership building and the empowerment of others. Sowing the seeds of confidence in them. Our trust in their capabilities. 

I felt that I was capable to do this, even if I was scared because I was instilled with the belief that I can.

This determination and faith in my own powers have led me on this journey. A path I can be proud of. 

 Reflect on your own life’s journey:

  1. What behaviors do you showcase to others that instill and bring about their trust in you?
  2. What actions by others give you the courage to step out of your own comfort zone?
  3. What are the feeling and actions you have done in the past due to the faith and the trust of others? 
  4. Whom can you trust to lead with capability? How can you show it?