An everyday story of leadership

John's reflections, Leadership in the news, Leading by autobiography, Storytelling Leave a comment

 

During the week between Christmas and the New Year, I have spent some of my time catching up on some reading and looking at videos I have been meaning to watch.  During this time, I came across a year-end show on CNN where they designate their ‘Heroes of 2009′.

I found this program quite inspirational.  As you all know, I am always ready to hear a good story, particularly ‘stories of identity’, those simplified narratives through which people reveal who they are, where they come from, and why they do what they do.

All of the heroes told something of themselves, and of why they choose to do what they do with their lives. In the documentary, many of the stories were remarkable, but there were some that ‘hit’ me in particular. Like the story of Jorge Munoz.

Jorge Munoz drives a school bus in New York City.  His act of leadership began simply.  Every night for years, he would drive past homeless people on his way home from work.  On one of these ordinary evenings, he rolled down his window and asked the men: “Are you hungry?”

From that simple question emerged the nonprofit organization, ‘An Angel in Queens’, through which Munoz and his family have provided more than 70,000 meals to the needy since 2004.

Most would consider his daily routine impossibly tiring.  He arises at 4:45 to check the food inventory, leaves to drive the school bus at 5:30, calls his family at every break during the day to organize the food for the evening, and then returns home at around 17:30 when he begins his ‘second job’ of running his mobile soup kitchen.  Though sustaining the endeavor consumes most of his life, he explains simply that his passion in life is bringing food to the hungry.

When we watch people like Jorge Munoz tell their stories, we realize once again that opportunities to lead are in front of us every day, and that ordinary people can truly have an extraordinary impact.  It all begins with the decision to take a stand for what we believe.  Jorge Munoz simply believed that no one in Queens should be hungry.

In stories like this one, we may find some good inspiration for our New Year!

If you think as I do that this story is inspirational, and if you want to find out more, click here.

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