I naturally enjoy leading. It is more than just being first; I enjoy everything about it. This includes control, responsibility, accountability, and being on the point. I often find myself watching how others lead, looking for ways to improve. Great leaders in history – Gandhi, Churchill, and even Patton come to mind. Other leaders that were only successfully for a time, German leaders in World War II, writers that hit their peak and then fell from grace, as well as athletes that were leaders within their sport all have something that we can learn from. Often their mistakes teach more than success. It is especially true when they collaborated with others, sometimes with glory and on other occasions in infamy. Every example is a gift, waiting for us to take and use as needed.
Far too often, even great leaders required a monumental setback or overwhelming challenge before being able to move beyond their own ego. As we look back with the benefit and comfort of time, the pain and anguish that was involved seems to have been a cheap price for what was to follow. I doubt that anyone was able to appreciate what might be in during the perspective of what was.
There are several lessons that cross many models. First, always seize the wisdom and strength found in truth. If the source is beyond question, follow. If the words are grounded in compassionate truth, do not question. The conversation may be blunt, such as when God said, “Don't argue. Go! I have picked him as my personal representative to non-Jews and kings and Jews.” (Acts 9.15) The power, purpose, and correctness are things we should accept not challenge.
Second, always remember that great leaders fail and face setbacks. One can learn and grow, moving forward without remorse. One can struggle on because of the calling, not for a reward.
Third, leadership is about embracing the future in context of the present. Ideas are never monopolized, horded, or used solely for personal benefit. It is always about the community.
Leaders serve as they lead.
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