Well, it’s the start of 2015. You’ve probably already had your fill of ‘predictions’ and ‘resolutions’ posts. Fear not, what I want to write about today, what I want to get everyone thinking about, is pretty basic. Aspiring to be great leaders.
How is being a great leader basic, you might be saying? It’s basic, because it’s your launch point. It’s the foundation upon everything else you do for the next 365’ish days should be built. But don’t take my word for it. Take Abraham Lincoln’s.
A Leadership History Lesson
I should start with the fact that I am very patriotic. The Star Spangled Banner gives me chills and I get emotional every time I see anyone in uniform, and feel lucky to be able to thank these men and women for their service.
A few months back, I was lucky enough to participate in a conference in Philadelphia. After the conference ended, we had several hours before our flight (something many of you probably experienced over the holidays), so I was more than eager to join when a trip to Independence Hall was mentioned.
I truly feel like walking in that building is like walking in hallowed halls. We had an amazing tour guide, and her passion as she walked us through Independence Hall on that cold November day was warming.
As she told the stories of how these men – these leaders of old – come together, willing to sacrifice anything and everything for their cause, she brought them to life in a way that caused reverent pause and humble emotion on my part.
Imagining Abraham Lincoln
After regaling us with tales of our founding fathers, she began to talk about Abraham Lincoln, who, on his way to take his oath of office as president of the United States, stopped in Philadelphia and also stood at Independence Hall.
I imagined he thought about the path upon which he was embarking, walking in the footsteps of those great founders. That he would continue the amazing work they had started. I thought about how incredible it must have been for him to visit the very place from which this great nation was born, immersed as he was in efforts to save the nation from tearing itself apart.
One fascinating part of our tour guide’s story was how many of the edits during the original negotiations of both the declaration of Independence and the constitution involved slavery. As slavery became a major part of the Civil war, and a primary factor that kept the countries of Europe from supporting the south, I wonder how Lincoln felt as he stood in that hall.
Great Leaders Aren’t Afraid to Build Upon a Foundation
Imagine realizing that even the great founding fathers couldn’t get this horrible conflict settled, and now this momentous task was his. What a great man to accept and honor the men who tried so hard, who created the foundation, but, due to history and circumstance simply did not have the ability to solve the conflict.
How lucky we are as a nation that we had Abraham Lincoln, through a twist of fate and timing, be exactly where he needed to be – the right time and place – to lead us through that painful journey.
As I think about great leaders I know, I realize hey have many of those same attributes. They understand their job is to serve, to do what must be done, and they are often unwavering in the decision to make what needs to happen, happen.
They are also humble enough that they are willing to honor those that have worked on the initiative before them, and they inspire greatness in people, the greatness that is required to take a goal from a vision to reality.
In 2015, I hope that I can be that kind of leader. I hope that in the things I am in charge of in both my career and personal life I can emulate those amazing men of history.
So let’s all start the year off right – with gratitude. Give thanks for those who were willing to serve in the past, help those here in the present achieve their greatness, and work hard to ensure the legacy you leave behind serves those great leaders of the future.