Think about the leaders that you admire and respect for a moment. Think about their lives and what draws you to follow them. Is it their strength, honesty, integrity, how much money they made or the perceptive decisions that seemed wrong at the time but turned out right. What is it that creates the elusive aura of a great leader? Perhaps it is a combination of those things. In my humble opinion none of those traits are as descriptive as one key thing that makes some people remembered as leaders - taking a stand.
I am a business guy so I follow business leaders; Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, Dr John Demartini, Walt Disney and David Deida have all influenced me in the last few years. Do they always make the 'right' decision or have total integrity and honesty, no. Do they make money and create good products, sure but that's not it either. After all they are just people, they fail, make mistakes, show cracks in their character and do the 'wrong' things sometimes like all of us. But what they all have in common is they stood for something that was more than themselves. They took a position and defended it.
Jobs was against the bland PC generation and wanted to inspire creativity and beauty; Branson was against big corporate greed and about making business fun; Demartini is against traditional views of right and wrong and about dissolving these emotions to love and gratitude; Disney was against being an adult all the time and for remembering the joys of childhood and finally Deida is against men being soft or shallow and for men more manly, strong emotionally and physically.
The consequences for those leaders was potential ridicule and financial loss if their audience didn't agree with them. But one leader stands out to me outside of this circle for his stand that cost millions of lives - Winston Churchill. Imagine if your decisions brought widows to families and children to hide in terror of the night. I struggle to think of how someone would make important decisions that costs lives, with unclear information in the midst of his own city being bombed each night.
If you don't know who Churchill was let me summarise. He was high up in British politics and military during the first and second world war. He was in charge during the disastrous Gallipoli campaign in WWI, for which he was removed from office. He returned to government and military but made some critical economic errors and again was demoted. With all these failures a lesser man might have quit. However, his best was yet to come. At the outbreak of WWII he became Prime Minister and stood alone against Hitler and Nazi Germany in the difficult days before the allies joined him to win the war. He was an inspirational man and steadfastly refused to give in and this strength of will carried his people over the line to fight the war. Without him the world would be a very different place.
It is said that challenge brings out the best in people. Where in your life have you been a leader like this? Where do you take a stand, hold an opinion different to others because you believe it to be right and just? Perhaps you think you haven't been tested or maybe you tell yourself it doesn't matter. I disagree, as these little choices do matter and build your character which is the foundation of a great leader. Leaders come in all shapes, sizes and functions. Perhaps you are leading your children's development. Leading a team of people at work or influencing behaviour around you. We all have choices each day to what influence we are having on the world. I encourage you to take a stand, even if it is a small one, to create positive change for those in your world. People might not always agree with you, but they will respect you for your leadership.
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