It was a beautiful summer evening in Kiawah, South Carolina. The sun was setting over the tree line and reflections glistened off the surface of the inlet waterway. I paddled quietly in my kayak as my 5-year-old daughter leaned back in my lap. It was a postcard kind of moment and the exact Stepping Back that we were looking for and needing as a family.
Suddenly, a fishing boat came ripping through the cove. The wake from the boat sent waves that sloshed our kayak back and forth and rocked us out of our peaceful moment. The unsteadiness of the waves caused a bit of panic for my daughter.
As the waves calmed, we paddled past a dock with a sign that read, “You Are Responsible For Your Wake.”
This is not a post about the flaws or mistakes of the person behind the wheel of the boat (we’ve all been there). I assume he was having his own beautiful moment and just didn’t realize the impact his wake was making. In this situation, no real damage was done, but in other more serious examples, property has been damaged, people have been hurt, and the natural ecosystem disrupted.
Whether we fully realize it or not, our wake has a profound effect on others. The good and the bad of our actions send ripples that impact those around us and the culture of our surroundings. Each of us send ripples by how we travel through our relationships, families, communities, and throughout our teams and organizations every day.
The most effective teams and groups are clear about how they aim to travel each day and are intentional about the wake they are trying to create together. They send ripples of leadership that create a positive, sustaining, and growing culture and impact.
What kind of wake do you want to create today?
Jason Barger is the globally celebrated author of Step Back from the Baggage Claim, ReMember, and the newly released book Thermostat Cultures, as well as a coveted keynote speaker and leadership consultant. More importantly, he’s striving to be an above average father, husband, and friend.
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