Column: Lighting the way

Posted 7/26/22

Many people have a fascination with lighthouses, for some of us, it is even an obsession. Over the years I have visited many lighthouses myself and also have a small collection of miniature …

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Column: Lighting the way


Many people have a fascination with lighthouses, for some of us, it is even an obsession. Over the years I have visited many lighthouses myself and also have a small collection of miniature lighthouses to remind me of a few of my favorites that I had a chance to see and climb. We are attracted to lighthouses for our own reasons, some love the dramatic coastline where the lighthouse is situated, and others enjoy visiting because it speaks to them of a time gone by while connecting them with their own past.

For many families, the lighthouse is a tradition as they plan vacations to the shores and lighthouses they have yet to see. They are really extraordinary structures with amazing stories of how each came to be. The earliest known lighthouse was Egypt’s Pharos of Alexandria built in 280 BC, with a huge open fire at the top and stood 450 feet tall.

When I think about the history, nostalgia, and individual meaning and significance that the lighthouse holds, I am reminded of their primary purpose. The lighthouse was designed and built to keep ships from becoming beached in the shallow waters or crashing into the rocky coasts. Instead, ships avoided being shipwrecked and were guided safely into the harbor. They were invented to light the way for ships at sea.

We may not be at sea, but we could still be adrift. As we consider what we use in our own life to light the way, many of us are grounded in our values and beliefs and we use those to guide our steps and decision making. Others find something that is their North Star, something whether a virtue or value, that they follow in good times and when times get tough, keeping them on the right path. And then there are those who rely on their principles and strong moral compass. And yet for others, they struggle because they have yet to connect with their values, beliefs, virtues, their North Star, or moral compass. They struggle because they have yet to find what lights their way.

As we worked on developing a new leadership program, one of our consultants, Bryan Price, Ph.D., shared a concept that I had heard before, but hardly ever thought about again until now. The concept is this, it’s about someone holding a candle, and how they can in turn light the candles of others around them. And then those people could continue to light the candles of even more people. As we thought about leadership, it would take a long time for a leader to visit each and every person in their company or on their team to inspire them or individually show them the way, but if they lit the way for a few, those few can then go and replicate the same effect throughout the organization or team.

If you have ever been to any candlelight service or vigil, you may have been the first one to light the candle and then pass the flame along to others. Or, someone may have lit your candle first, and then you shared the flame and light with others. Before we know it, the entire room, area, or church is completely lit up because we all shared the light with the person next to us.

Now, just imagine it isn’t a lighthouse showing some captain the way around the rocks, or a candlelight service in church or candlelight vigil being held outside somewhere. Imagine that the light is each one of us, and that we have the ability to light the way for others. And what if we just lit a couple candles each day for those around us? The compounding impact of this would be tremendously amazing.

How about you? Has someone lit the way for you? Have you tried and maybe even enjoyed lighting the way for others? I would love to hear your story at, and when we can be a living, breathing lighthouse for others, we really can make it a better than good life.

Michael Norton is the grateful president of XINNIX, a personal and professional coach, and a consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator to businesses of all sizes.


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