Leadership and Olive Garden
Throughout the pandemic, we have been in America. I left Haiti for the last time on March 15, and no Americans associated with All Things New have been back since then. During that time, it has been difficult for us to continue to lead our ministry in Haiti because of the physical distance along with the emotional distance of not being in the presence of the people we are leading.
Here in America, we have continued to try and lead our organization, but some of the same issues persist. Our board meetings are done remotely, our kids (Sophie, Elijah, and Ezekyal) are always at home, and it can be difficult to think through the future of an organization when even the present seems to be up in the air.
While we are working through those things, the issues that we face in terms of leadership has gotten me to think about what leadership looks like. My guess is, in terms of topics on which a book could be written, leadership would be in at least the top 5. I always thought writing a book about leadership or speaking on leadership would be a tough thing to do. Mostly because the people that you lead would probably read whatever you put out there and then they would know right away whether or not you practice what you preach.
But I want to bring up a principle just to see if anyone else has ever thought about this and how it relates to leadership. For lack of a better term, I will call it the "Olive Garden Principle." The Olive Garden Principle can be defined as the idea that when a group of people (3 or more) get together to try and choose a place to eat, they always end up at the most average restaurant possible because it neither offends nor excites and because everyone can find at least one thing to eat there. (You may really like Olive Garden, and that is fine, but for now it serves my purpose because I find it to be the average restaurant in the world)
The bottom line is that when a group of people get together and nobody is the clear leader and there is no clear vision, contentment in the "average" is likely. This principle can happen in any type of group. Whether it be a committee at a church, the board of a nonprofit, or the leadership group of a business. When a group of people get together and no leader steps up to cast vision and to lead, nothing great happens. In simple words, you end up at Olive Garden.
At All Things New, luckily, we do not have that problem. We have been blessed with leaders in Haiti like Gina who is not afraid to tell us when things are not going the way they should. Who has a vision for the kids and how they need to be raised in Haiti. Leaders like Lener who has slowly taken on more and more responsibility to the point that he has become vital. He makes decisions and does the things that need to be done, and he knows that we trust him.
We have people in America that continue to make sure we move forward. I would try to name everyone, but I am so sure that I would leave someone out that I will not even try. But starting with our board president and moving on to people who do things for our organization that we could never thank them enough for, we have great leadership here.
I say all of this to say that we will not settle for "average." The "Olive Garden Principle" that I describe above will never find its way to All Things New because our leadership is too strong. We do not grow content no matter what and we continue to push forward because our kids and our ministry depend on it. Thank you to everyone for all that you do for us and our kids, and please continue to hold us accountable.