I recently Googled the definition of "leadership" and up came 81 million responses.
Clearly I didn't read them all. However, the definitions I did read included some sort of reference to guidance, direction and influence.
Leadership is one of those things that many people have spent entire careers trying to articulate and define. We know it when we see it, and we are keenly aware when it is lacking.
The first few months of this year have been rough in the leadership department in Costa Mesa. Until a few days ago, we had been in limbo with a police chief, the school district superintendent was on leave straightening out some things, and we have an interim fire chief.
We have a new city chief executive, Tom Hatch, who is working to hold it all together.
Costa Mesa is in the midst of some leadership challenges. And yet I know that leadership does not just come with position and power. Most of us get up and lead something every day, and the people who do it well can guide, direct and influence no matter their official title.
My hunch is that there are many excellent leaders among us here in Costa Mesa. At a time when it is not always obvious, I want to point out some excellent leaders in our community.
Ana Lara: Leading through serving
Ana Lara is a neighborhood leader with Mika Community Development Corp., where I work, and serves on the nonprofit's board of directors. In the last few years, she started her own small business and is now mentoring two other women and investing to help get them started in business. She cares deeply for her neighbors and, because of that, has mobilized others to participate in neighborhood projects.
Mike Decker: Leading with truth
Mike Decker is the pastor of Palm Harvest Church, which meets at Costa Mesa High School on Sunday mornings, but in reality he is more like a city pastor. Mike spends the bulk of his time listening, praying with and caring for people, from school principals to neighbors to cops.
He has his finger on the city's pulse and is not afraid to ask hard questions. He leads quietly and with wisdom. He shows up when it counts.
Megan Elsten Brown: Leading passionately
Brown was recently appointed principal at Pomona Elementary School. This is a fitting position for her, as she has spent the last decade investing in families. Brown previously coordinated Even Start, a comprehensive family literacy program where she has influenced hundreds of lives, from preschoolers to adults.
She goes after community partnerships to leverage resources in creative ways and works tirelessly to promote the education of whole families. I anticipate great things for Pomona Elementary and our whole community.
Christian Parra: Leading with vision
While on a police ride-along last month, I asked the officer, "What is the best thing happening on the Westside?"
Without a word he drove me to 740 W. Wilson St. — the address of Harbor Christian Fellowship. Since Christian Parra has become the pastor there, the place has been transformed into a true community center.
The property is big and Christian's vision is to use all of it to serve the community. Any given afternoon, it is packed with students tutoring, women exercising, guys playing soccer and health seminars. When I am there I want to stay; the energy is contagious and so is the vision of a thriving community.
When I see these leaders and others in action, I am encouraged and inspired to keep on dreaming, working and serving others. There are many more examples of leaders in our city I can think of. This is my view.
For you, what examples of leadership come to mind?
CRISSY BROOKS is executive director and co-founder of Mika Community Development Corp., a faith-based nonprofit in Costa Mesa, where she lives.