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At our house, a perfect Sunday evening ritual includes a tasty grilled dinner, enjoyed together on the back porch, while listening to the Pinecone Bluegrass Show. It’s a relaxing cap to an active weekend, and a great way for our family to connect in advance of the busy week ahead. As a family, we love the bluegrass sound, and also the rich stories the music tells.

Nearly every week the Pinecone Bluegrass Show plays one of my favorite bluegrass songs: Bed By the Window by the late James King.

The song tells the story of two old men in a nursing home. The men are confined to their beds, and share memories and stories together to pass the time. Joe, who occupies the bed by the window describes to his roommate all the goings on in the world outside the window. It is not until Joe passes away that Bill, the roommate, is finally able to see the view for himself. When he’s moved to the spot by the window, Bill realizes that the window faces only a brick wall. Bill is suddenly away that for all those years, Joe created a rich world outside the window for both of them to enjoy. And after a new roommate arrives, Bill carries on the tradition for the new friend.

To me, the song touches not only on a beautiful act of friendship, but on the concept of servant leadership. A servant leader leads by creating for others an environment for success. In the song, Joe creates the world outside the window so his friend can experience something new and beautiful every day. He creates an environment in which Bill derives pleasure, comfort, and hope.

In my own experience, I’ve known servant leaders who provided me encouragement, mentorship, challenges, and opportunities for growth. I also see servant leaders at work in our profession: veterinarians who encourage growth and development in the staff they lead, academic faculty members who provide mentorship to students, and student leaders who create supportive learning cultures and experiences in the organizations and institutions they serve.

What about the servant leaders in your world? How have you become a servant leader? If the chance arose, how would you describe the view outside the window for those around you?

If you’d like to hear the song Bed By the Window, visit this YouTube link

Kim Chappell

Kim Chappell is passionate about her veterinary profession for 20 years (NC State University Class of 1997)! She is a long-time volunteer facilitator for the Veterinary Leadership Experience, and is a supporter of the Veterinary Leadership Institute. Kim works as a Regional Consulting Veterinarian for Elanco Animal Health, and loves speaking to veterinarians and veterinary students through her work.

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