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A Revitalized Leader Is Good for the Group

Marcia McCoy
Maple Grove MN USA
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 38 No. 5, October-November 2002 p. 106.

Recently, my second son, Ian, celebrated his 11th birthday. I went through the La Leche League accreditation process while pregnant with Ian and became a Leader just after his birth, so my leadership is 11 years old, too. When I look at my bright and active fifth grader, I see that he’s gone through a lot of changes in the past 11 years. I’ve gone through a lot of changes, too, but I’m still in LLL. I’ve met Leaders with 25 or more years in LLL, and I’ve known Leaders accredited after me who’ve already retired.

What keeps me involved in La Leche League as my children grow and my life continues to evolve? It’s the sense of accomplishment I feel through my LLL work.

When I first became a Leader, I felt a great sense of accomplishment each time I had contact with a mother. It hadn’t been that long since I had gone through the transformation of becoming a mother. I was very aware of how a small piece of breastfeeding information, or just a timely bit of reassurance given at a pivotal moment, can alter the course of a mother’s and baby’s lives forever. I was very inspired by all the scientific research on the benefits of human milk and determined to "get the word out" about breastfeeding.

As my children grew, I also grew as a mother. I experienced nursing past toddlerhood and then tandem nursing. I was understanding more and more that human milk is just a small part of mothering through breastfeeding, and my appreciation of LLL’s message deepened.

However, at the same time, leading meetings and doing helping calls became more routine and I gave myself less credit for the mothers I was reaching personally. I didn’t get the same sense of accomplishment from doing the same work each month. When our meeting attendance went down, or there was a lull in phone calls, I became more easily discouraged. I came to depend more on my fellow Leaders for support and encouragement. Chapter meetings, District Workshops, and Area Conferences helped to renew my enthusiasm for my efforts within my own Group.

As I continued to gain experience as a Leader, I became more aware of the larger cultural forces that influenced the mothers I was helping. I wanted to impact those factors in the broader culture—hospital policy, society’s attitudes, and the media’s portrayal of breastfeeding—which create the need for groups such as LLL in the first place. Working on outreach opportunities such as the Women’s Expo and continuing education seminars helped me feel I was making a difference.

When my youngest son entered kindergarten, my focus shifted again. I was ready to tackle an Area job. Area jobs are all about helping mothers by helping Leaders to help mothers. As a side benefit, I get to spend more time with other Leaders. I find that Leaders are very diverse and really have only one thing in common—they’re all wonderful people! In addition to the camaraderie of Area work, I enjoy the challenge of mastering new skills as I take on new projects.

I believe I’ll remain an LLL Leader just as long as the work is rewarding. Over the years I’ve found several ways to keep my enthusiasm high:

  • Read up on the latest breastfeeding research—this is how I first developed the desire for leadership.
  • Attend Chapter meetings, District Workshops, and Area Conferences (and, if possible, the International Conference)—peers are a constant source of inspiration to me.
  • Work at an outreach opportunity or volunteer to help with a continuing education session or an Area Conference job—you’ll feel as though you’re reaching a new audience.
  • Consider an Area job—work with other Leaders providing support for your fellow Leaders and master some new skills.
  • Most importantly, remember that the only way to change the world is one person at a time—each time you help one mother, you’ve accomplished something great!

Marcia McCoy is a Leader with the NW Suburbs Group in Minnesota, USA and is the Area Financial Coordinator for the Minnesota/Dakotas Area. "Managing The Group" is edited by Deborah Wirtel. Send columns or ideas to Deb at 4246 Robert Koch Hospital Road, St. Louis, Missouri, 63129, USA or DebMomm at (email).

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