On a Life’s Path Toward Servant Leadership

By Dena-Kae Beno

Angelo Rea is not just your average sharply dressed, Italian-Canadian man with shoes for every occasion and laces to match his ties. He is a man who is determined to walk in the shoes of a servant leader as he demonstrates this through his everyday work life and community relationships. Servant leadership is based on the principles to serve and leading by example. It is having the purpose to enhance and enrich the organizations that you work for and ultimately, giving back to society.
Angelo credits his leadership skills to the influences of his parents, family, company, and the small town values of Thorold, Ontario in the Niagara Region, where he grew up in. Angelo’s parents and three of his eight siblings were born and raised in Arpino, Italy. Angelo was born in St. Catherines, Ontario. He has a Canadian and Italian citizenship and is very proud of his culture and heritage. His parents immigrated to Canada with very little material possessions or monetary wealth. Angelo states that his parents persevered through these hard times to raise eight children. He states that his father had an impeccable work ethic and is his hero. His mother was selfless and was always taking care of her family. His father would always say to him, “If you have food on the table, clothing on your back and a roof over your head, you are a very rich man. You make sure you take care of other people and be loyal to your family.” Angelo discovered his leadership abilities playing youth sports. Years later, he clearly identified his passion of leading when he enrolled in a university humanities course. He went on to pursue Masters of Theological studies at Trinity Western University. It was during this time, he recognized the value of leading with passion and with purpose. He says, “You have to be intentional about leading. The purpose of leading is to add value and to enrich the lives of others.” He quotes Zig Ziglar, author and motivational speaker, “You can get everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” This quote continues to inspire him. It encourages him to embrace and encourage people through their journey. Everyone deserves the opportunity to succeed. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live a fulfilled life. We must be generous and kind people who want to give back. We definitely cannot take things with us. People will remember us for what we have done and not for what we have accumulated. Success is not in what we have but what we have done for others. Angelo is grateful for the people who have helped him along his journey. He acknowledges that this has helped him to arrive to a place that he is currently at in his own life. He expresses that he has done well in his career and feels passionate about it, in turn; he is dedicated in supporting others to grow and excel. Also, finding ways to give generously to the community. Angelo asserts the importance of understanding that, “We don’t live to accumulate, we live to give and grow as human beings”. We live through experiences. He reflects on how his profession in funeral service reminds him of this daily. He reflects that this also applies to his life philosophical belief. “I do not worry about tomorrow. Tomorrow is only a promissory note; we are not guaranteed a tomorrow. He says, “The past was yesterday it’s behind us. What we have is today. This moment and time. We want to value this moment and time. We want to influence people for the betterment of humanity. Life is short and we need to live it with passion and purpose. We want to have fun doing this. We have to embrace our child-like behaviors. Laughter is the antidote of feeling young. He asked the reflective question, “Are we willing to be go-givers instead of go-takers? He states, “What I am doing today, how I am influencing and impacting people around me matters most”. He asserts that you cannot change people, but you can walk alongside of them. We need to encourage people and embrace them. He recognizes that people have all the resources within themselves to make choices and changes for their own good. He states that he practices this daily by asking meaningful questions that help support individuals to reflect on their choices, and desire for action or change. He affirmed that the mark of a good leader is asking a lot questions and leading by example. Angelo says, “We need to empty ourselves from ego and pride and truly embrace the qualities that allow us to give. We are not in competition with each other”. He states that the world we live in should not have poverty, greed, and injustice. Rather, we should be grateful for those who are committed to addressing these social issues. He feels that government and business could be more charitable to those in need. He wants to share with the Marco Polo readers, four key questions that one should reflect upon and live by: 1) What is it that you want in life and why? 2) How are you going to get there (action); 3) What is your time limit that you have set for yourself to achieve or reach your goal; and 4) What does it look like if you have achieved your goal. As Covey says, “Live with the end in mind.” We have a life list and not a bucket list. A life list are the things that we want to do now as we live. We want to enjoy and embrace life in the present moment. We want to do the things that we want to do now and with a plan in mind. A buck list sounds negative and discouraging. A bucket list sounds like, “I am going to kick the bucket soon. Therefore, I have a list of the things I want to do before I kick the bucket”. Angelo states that it is important to live with passion. Find what you love doing and do it with purpose. Be intentional to serve. He closes our conversation by stating that he loves his work and especially working for Service Corporation International (Dignity Memorial) who have been very instrumental in his growth as an individual and as a leader. He has spent almost 27 years with a company that has given him one of the best experiences in life. He does not know when or if he will retire. He states, “I have so much more to do and so much more to give back.
I look at myself in the mirror and I know that I am aging, but I do not fear tomorrow. I am at peace. I am not afraid of life or death. With this feeling, I wake up every day with more energy and more passion. I have more energy than a 20 year old! I enjoy and appreciate every day that I have to give back.
I spend a lot of time creating experiences rather than wasting my time in accumulating things that we cannot take with us.”

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