There has been a continuous debate going on about the value of a leader’s ability to inspire others. There is a leadership skill that brings out the best out in people — guiding the individual to find within himself or herself the gifts to contribute in new ways — gifts that resided within them all along. Why are these such important qualities in a leader?
I was cleaning out a cabinet and I found a story about George Washington that I had tucked away a long time ago. Unfortunately, it came to me without notation of its origin. There must have been something that touched me even then, long before I was focused on the art of putting our differences to work. The story clearly demonstrates the usefulness of these inspiring, insightful qualities. President Washington shows by his example what it means to see and ignite the best in people:
“Washington had a talent for bringing powerful, conflicting points of view into harmony. For example, such opposing characters as Jefferson and Hamilton could have split the nation into pieces, but realizing how badly the country needed both men, Washington labored successfully for cooperation and peace. Adopting Hamilton’s fiscal policies, the President was able to place the federal government on a sound footing. And Jefferson’s tremendous reasoning, writing and speaking talents were equally useful in helping to shape the infant government.”
As I’ve taken in the lesson in this story, it came to me that at this time in history, that all of us have witnessed signs of a new generation of leadership blossoming in a way that demonstrates these same qualities in action. We have also witnessed our own power, as citizens, in doing what at one time seemed impossible. What is most notable in these observations isn’t so much that the qualities of the individual leader shine alone. It is the radiance of these special leadership qualities when they are present and connected to others. Everyone shines. The nation unites. The world benefits too by our example.
Do you think we’ve forgotten that the work of change is only beginning?
As we forge ahead to put talk into action, the sea of problems is far-reaching, and seems ever-growing. There are also cynics, blamers, and complainers on every front — the Economy, Healthcare, Foreign Affairs, the Wars, the Environment and…, as well as many side issues to distract and delay our focus and attention on first-things-first. These voices are loud. It’s not that diverse points of view aren’t needed — this is part of our heritage —, but complaints and finger-pointing alone never solved any problem. What seems strangely subdued is our own belief in change, our own confidence, our presence, and our remembrance of the power of our voices to shape our destiny. I admit sometimes the negative spin on anything and everything is overwhelming, but as history tells us, change is never easy.
“We have been told we can’t do this by a force of cynics. …We been asked to pause for a reality check. …No matter what obstacles stand in our way, there is nothing that stands in the way of power of millions of voices calling for change.” — President Barack Obama
In a moment of synchronicity, I remembered the full rendition of the Black Eyed Peas “Yes We Can” Song. As I watched it again, now in reflection, it struck me that the Light came through not from one individual’s call to action, but from the many dimensions of difference inspired enough to sing their own notes in response. Click HERE to watch again.
Regardless of your political affiliation, the truth is that we sit at a critical place in our history with issues that are far more important to solve than which side we are on. The images of us accepting and owning the power we hold to change things is a compelling invitation for us once again, don’t you think? There seems to be a GREAT HOPE in the possibility of moving one big mountain at a time, while holding with the vision and taking the action that will influence building a steady, quickening, positive momentum of our nation’s renewal and recovery. Drawing from one of those who changed history again…
“It is always impossible until it is done.” — Nelson Mandela
Your thoughts? What do you think is standing in our way? What recommendations do you make?
founder, Global Dialogue Center
author, Putting Our Differences to Work
The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership, and High Performance