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Human Frailty, Golden Chains, and Icons of Leadership

During a four days stay at the Argensen Hotel in West Paris, I encountered a few icons and images of leadership from behind Paris’ medieval backdrop, in an old woman’s wrinkled face. I also saw the value of choices we make as leaders - for ourselves and others. It’s not often what you see at first…

The woman appeared at first, an image of frail humanity. After a brief observation, though, her image changed into an icon of survival and of giving back, in an odd sort of way. Intrigued, I stopped an took in more….chain.jpg

Near my seat on a blue bench at the Metro train station’s busy shops, she dropped stale crumbs into a circle of pigeons bobbing near her swollen feet. The woman’s floral dress sagged inches below frayed swatches hung from her dark cloth coat like fur sheds from elk in molting season.

Trains squealed to a halt and then chugged off again on both sides of her frail frame, as conductors called to well heeled business fare in fast paced lanes. Above her pigeons circled within the enclosed station as if to call attention to her plight.

Later, on my drive back home,  Parisian images in silhouettes of seventeenth century homes faded into the night, and marble statues and charming church-steepled slipped from view, yet I still saw this elderly woman’s bent structure in living color.

The following day I returned and she did not. Details of quaint step gables, weather-cocked figures on roofs, gabled windows peered down on sunny pavement at my little sidewalk cafes. Concerned for her welfare, and sorry I’d not done more when she was there,  I asked about the elderly woman at the market squares and I inquired from artists, who lined the streets to capture and contain Paris’ ancient beauty down through the ages. Nobody had seen her that day.

Where was the woman who owned so little,  but fed crumbs to a few trapped pigeons?  Her icon challenged me to see leadership images in van Goethe’s words … “Kindness is the golden chain by which society is bound together.”  Her life changes choices we leaders make for ourselves and others as part of the icon in a golden chain.

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« Physical AND Emotional Fitness? | Main | Timeless Principle #4 – Be humble – nobody is good enough to be arrogant! »


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