This is my last post for a couple of weeks. I go to Frankfurt tomorrow afternoon to prepare for Diane and Darbi's arrival on the morning of December 15. The three of us then head out for a whirlwind tour of a number of European cities. Come back in January to see pictures and commentary on this part of my "Pursuing Leadership" journey.
My last day in Differdange presented three simple but very important experiences that I will remember fondly. The first was at the conclusion of my afternoon walk - something I usually do before it gets dark each day. I stopped by the Match grocery store, browsing as I've increasingly become comfortable in doing, trying to understand the labels and products. I picked out my merchandise and went to the check out. I was greeted in French and responded in French - "Bon jour." The cashier tallied my items, we exchanged cash, he thanked me and I responded, "Merci." My fantasy is that he never knew I have only the base survival vocabulary in French. This may not seem huge to you but it was a triumph to me. The second experience was at the end of my walk, returning to the Chateau. Have you seen that commercial where a spontaneous soccer game erupts in an Asian market place? Well, this wonderful kid in the school yard was kicking his soccer ball around and when I passed by, he kicked it to me. I laughed out loud and so did he. It was such a warm moment of connection and appreciation of sport and life - without one word spoken. Finally, we had an end-of-the-semester faculty chilli dinner tonight. We all gathered around the table, told stories, and celebrated a great semester. This is the way learning is supposed to be - faculty and students sharing in the common journey and enjoying every minute of it.
These thoughts may not seem that profound but one of the most profound realizations of my European pursuit of leadership is renewing a commitment to the simple things of leadership - relationships, transparency, and conviction. These really are the simple and complex things that challenge us each day. I've found a lot more than a little truth in this pursuit over the past weeks. Come back for more in January. Who know where I'll go.