We The People

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Photo by Katharina Dielenhein of Unsplash

“It is always much easier to criticize the actions of others than change our own”

Any group gathered together for a purpose will function better when headed by a great leader. Whether it be a small business or an entire nation, people are willing to listen and follow the instructions from others whom they hold in high regard. While circumstances may require different types of leadership skills, certain qualities ought to be a part of every leaders’ style.

There are countless books, multitudes of classes, and infinite opinions on what comprises a great leader. No doubt some traits are vital to great leadership, what are the duties, characteristics, and crucial components which ordinary citizens should possess? Why should destiny be left to the actions of the one in charge?

Each one of has as much of an obligation to behave in many of the same ways we would expect from our leaders. Is it not hypocritical to demand honesty, integrity, and humanity from them yet excuse it from ourselves?

Almost on a daily occurrence there are headlines spotlighting world leaders who have displayed character unbecoming of what would be regarded as leadership qualities. Criticizing those actions, no matter how deserved they may be, gets nearly as much attention. However, if a trail of reporters were following your every move, how much negative – or for that matter, positive – reports could be written about you?

If we are going to decry and complain about the actions of those in power then we also should consider our own. If there is one particular conduct I find extremely appalling it is when those in positions of authority take every opportunity to place blame on others. It is laughable how many so-called leaders often use this puny and cowardly argument. Most often this is a technique to shift the focus from the weak leadership skills possessed by the accuser.

For those who have read many of my articles, you’ll recall that self examination and reflection is a major theme throughout nearly every one. Admittedly, there are times when the actions of others do greatly influence an outcome but that is not a ticket for us to wield the same behavior that formerly we had railed against. How will we grow as an individual if we first don’t get a better understanding of who we are? This is accomplished when we take an honest look at the person in the mirror.

If we begin to raise the level of our own behaviors, then we can rightly demand the same from our leaders. If we denounce those whose strategy is to demean and debase their opponents – especially because they are covering up their own deficiencies and insecurities – they will have no choice but to change.

The best way to raise the level of leadership is for those being led to let them know what you expect and that you are willing to raise your own level of honesty, integrity, and humanity.

Many thanks to Katharina Dielenhein for the beautiful picture. Find out more about her by clicking here. Thanks as always and I look forward to your comments.

 

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Making US Great

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Photo by Andrew Pons of Unsplash

 “A symbol of freedom does not, within itself, possess what it takes to preserve it.”

Not all who read my posts are US citizens but I’m hoping everyone will find some inspiration in this week’s article directed toward my fellow Americans. The past few articles have centered on Leadership and as the US midterm elections approach, I felt these thoughts were rather timely.

As my 6th decade on this planet swiftly approaches, never would I have imagined this country would be in such disarray. While the solutions to resolve these issues may remain a mystery, there are plenty of actions from all sides of the political spectrum which are clearly not the remedies.

Since I have no party affiliation and therefore no cause to promote, I’ll do my best to be as unbiased, fair, and independent as possible. A brief assessment of both major political parties will reveal that for many politicians being in the good graces of their party far outweigh the importance of being a leader to those they were elected to serve.

My concerns about political parties were also echoed by someone with much more political clout than I and that was none other than the Father of our country, George Washington. In his farewell address, he advised the citizens to see themselves as a cohesive unit and to “avoid political parties”. He also stated, “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

We citizens must now both demand leadership and do our best to commend those who exude it. The current leadership at the national level seems to have very little interest in righting the course. Nearly every word uttered places blame and belittles the other party. The Senate Majority “Leader” talked about his disgust for the hearings of the recently-approved Supreme Court Justice. IT HAPPENED UNDER YOUR WATCH! Why didn’t you do anything about it? Other than fanning the flames more!

But the Democrats should not hold themselves blameless. There has been plenty of gaslighting on their side of the isle. If these upcoming elections put you back in the majority, I only pray you don’t play the revenge card. That will only further widen the crisis in this nation and deepen the wound which is in desperate need of healing.

The problem is that many succumb to the lure of money and the perceived power which supposedly accompanies it. The income you receive only forces you to dance to the whims of your puppeteer(s). The more the dollar becomes the goal, the more integrity flies out the window. This unquestionably evident in every move and decision made by this Administration. In fact, winning is defined by how much money can be made. Mr. President, no one in the history of the world has ever purchased integrity; you have been a very, very good example of that.

We need politicians whose sole objective is to serve those who elected them. Leaders whose uprightness outweighs partisan favoritism and are so deeply committed to representing the needs of constituents that campaigning becomes all but unnecessary.  An understanding that no side gets everything they want and working together with opposing views only initiates a more creative solution.

We citizens, too, need to understand this same concept. Those who hold their religion in high regard must realize it is fine for them. Fighting to create legislation that everyone must have those same beliefs is strictly in opposition to the first Amendment. Believe it or not, the Treaty of Tripoli, signed in 1796 by President John Adams, clearly states: “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.” The first Amendment, among many freedoms gives us the right to form our own opinions but it does provide a mandatory stage for you to be heard.

Being tolerant of opposing points of views doesn’t mean you are compromising your own. If we cannot learn to practice the art of accepting views which differ from ours, these current wounds will never have an opportunity to heal.

Unfortunately, too many politicians think admitting mistakes is a sign of weakness. This could not be further from the truth. Questioning ourselves is not a sign of frailty but rather a fervent search for the truth. I am no exception; carefully examining and rethinking my words to make sure they fully represent my values. If anything is found to be inconsistent, great consideration will be taken to align those ideas so I grow as a human.

This is perhaps the biggest challenge politicians face. When their own selfish desires become the primary reason for decisions about legislation, it establishes barriers and divisions that ultimately never create fair and just legislation. The bickering and fighting continue to compound and then… how did President Washington put it? “Cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

I still have hope for this nation. Even though we remain the largest economy on the globe, what good is it if the once indivisible nation becomes torn and tattered more than the flag which inspired its anthem? We need to become a beacon; an inspiration and great example to the rest of the world for our integrity, honesty, and compassion. We don’t need to withhold financial support in order to force our bidding on them. People want to follow a true leader and other nations will gladly follow a great nation.

My thanks to Andrew Pons for the fitting photo. Find out more about him by clicking here. I look forward to your comments.

Looking at Leadership


Photo by Justin Cron of Unsplash

“The joy of a leader can often be seen in the joy of those being led”

No one would argue the value of having a great leader. In last week’s post, some of the qualities of leadership were discussed (click here to read it). When attempting to characterize positive attributes of a strong leader, many look to the past and cite examples of those whom history has touted as successful. But is this always the most prudent method?

One of the most highly regarded and respected “founders” of the United States of America was its first President, George Washington. While historians have recorded a stellar reputation for him, many of his contemporaries vehemently disagreed. Thomas Paine penned a scathing letter denouncing Washington as “a hypocrite in public life” and going as far as implying that he had forsaken any good principles.

A little research will uncover numerous disparities, bitter disagreements, and public feuds between many of those who fashioned the fledgling nation. While there is no objective to tarnish any of their reputations, it’s important to understand the history of leadership in context.

Progress comes by looking forward. Wisdom comes from observing and studying the past; not only to eliminate or avoid mistakes but also to refine and polish the finer attributes forged by great leaders.

Our world is in a constant state of change and while at times seems very flawed, a true leader strives to become aware of those faults and works to change them for the benefit of those being led. It’s important that fairness, equality, and integrity fuel the force behind why a leader takes that position. Sacrifice is a given and at times, risks his or her own life solely for the purpose and benefit of others.

Unfortunately, many who profess to be leaders have taken advantage of their position for lucrative gains. Others have usurped the legislative process and established laws intended only for their benefit. They have no empathy much less guilt for cementing laws designed to crush the rights and oppress those who remotely resist their selfish  intentions. In fact, they will even try to make those they’ve devastated feel ashamed for their dissent.

Great leaders will accept the responsibility when things go awry, even when they weren’t responsible. When something goes wrong under their watch, they sense an urgency to re-right the situation. Finger pointing and shifting blame are techniques used by pseudo-leaders because that only serves to divide and polarize their constituents. There are plenty of contemporary examples and some of these may be heading past a point of no return.

Perhaps the difficulty lies in finding outstanding leadership and giving them the recognition they most certainly deserve. Those who have only the best intentions rarely get accolades owed them simply because they don’t need it and aren’t searching for it.

It’s high time that these examples are the ones which garner the spotlight and are brandished for their selfless and gallant outcomes. If you have a story of extraordinary leadership, tell us about it in the comments. Many thanks to Justin Cron for the beautiful picture. Find out more about him by clicking here. 

Leading to the Future

 

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Photo by Ngaere Woodford-Bender of Unsplash

“The most difficult problems to see often are those in the mirror.”

Leadership is a quality in high demand these days. It is so great that a new industry has spawned to fill that need. There are classes, books, courses, and coaches who specialize in molding, shaping, and creating leaders for every aspect of life. Good leaders can profoundly change a circumstance from bleak to victorious by inspiring others and bring out the best in those whom they serve. Is it possible, however, that its modern-day definition is changing and getting away from what a true leader is?

Becoming a leader may not always be a choice. Some have risen quickly through the ranks simply because there was a void to fill while others toiled tirelessly to reach that level. It is not a position available to just anyone and in many cases, can create more difficulties than triumphs. However, leaders are essential in creating and maintaining a productive and meaningful society.

Take a few moments and define for yourself what your ideals of an effective leader are. Some are very obvious. Qualities such as honesty, integrity, and hard working may be glaringly evident, but what are some of the outstanding attributes needed in order for you to be led by them?

Naturally we tend to be attracted to standards which are similar to or suit our beliefs. It would stand to reason that the more a leader supports our line of thinking, the more apt we are to be united under his or her leadership. Conversely, when they exhibit views which conflict with ours, depending on how strongly we feel, our objections can be aggressive and ferocious.

No leader can embody only those traits which we deem relevant mainly because we would differ on what must be included in that list. However, there are certain characteristics which seemingly should be apparent.

First of all, a leader is there to lead. Those being led should not be used as pawns; easily disposed or taken advantage of. Many are drawn to dynamic personalities and are enamored by showmanship and style. While this may be alluring, it shouldn’t promote actions or a need to constantly tout a list of accomplishments and perceived wins.

Leaders rarely need to convince others they are doing great because that is not their purpose. Standing up for the good of the group takes precedence over what suits the person in charge and mocking any rivals is a huge indication of self-doubt and low self-esteem.

A good leader often seeks the advice of others who have traveled similar paths and doesn’t assume he or she has all the qualifications needed to perform that job better than anyone has or ever will. But perhaps one of the most important virtues leaders possess is inspiring future leaders; mentoring those to surpass even what they themselves have attained.

Not everyone gets the opportunity to become a leader so when that occasion arises, a leader should demonstrate behaviors which most people may not have the courage or ability to achieve.

Many thanks to Ngaere Woodford-Bender for the beautiful photo. Find out more about her by clicking here. As always, I look forward to your comments.