ABC News Correspondent Diane Sawyer flew to the northern regions of Japan to view the scenes of destruction from the earthquake and tsunami. As she, her interpreter, and her videographer walked through a village, they came upon a circle of local citizens. Their chairs were pulled together loosely as they sat and talked and passed the time.
Upon seeing Ms. Sawyer’s group approach, a man jumped to his feet and moved across the circle away from them. At first, I thought he was trying to escape the camera or perhaps offer his seat to the visitors. Instead, he reached in a bag and pulled out what appeared to be rice cakes and offered them to his guests.
“Oh, no!” the journalist team exclaimed, “We have no need for your food.”
“Please, take it,” the man answered in Japanese. “We have more than enough.”
More than enough. As the camera panned across the scene, it was apparent that this small group of survivors had each other, a small bag of food, and barely enough warm clothing for the close-to-freezing temperatures.
But their lack of physical things didn’t diminish that which they shared in abundance. Sometimes deep love and respect for others — particularly the stranger — makes even the scarcest resources seem like more.
Too often our picture of a leader is of one who offers from a wealth of talent and resources. Our view of a leader is of someone who opens a great storehouse and delivers wisdom, compassion, physical resources, and guidance. Yet, the true leaders are those who see their storehouses emptied in service to others. The true leaders are those who worry less about self than about others. The true leaders are those who serve.
The beauty of the selfless leader is that those they serve return their love and respect. We see less of stifling hierarchy and more of seamless community. And in such a place, the words we hear at every turn are “Please, take it. We have more than enough.”