My concern has always been the propensity of our citizens to define individuals and groups using subjective self-defined terminology to identify, describe or alienate ideas, beliefs and peoples. Whether seen as a failure or success, we as a nation have nurtured an environment that allows and endorses a systematic deconstruction of generally accepted morals and principals. The concept that a personal offense equates the necessity to realign legal systems, and the rights of the mass to coddle the sensitivity of the individual, is a constantly evolving process that has gradually eroded the principles our society was founded on.
The Army once defined leadership as;
Influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation, while operating to accomplish the mission and influence the organization.
While the wording suggests a military definition we can apply such a description to any person or group identified or perceived as a leader or leadership. The statement is general enough that the inclusion of our own personal interpretations would place our elected officials in a glass house where no leader could be identified. I see this as a universal pictorial regardless of which side of the aisle you support.
The eternal constant of leaders is failure. While success often is unknown it is the failures that become record. Failing is not a negative trait or a sign that a person is somehow incapable or unworthy, at least on the surface. How the failure is dealt with, how future decisions are made, the actions carried out and the acceptance of responsibility is an indicator of the character the leader displays. A failure is not necessarily a failing. One is a matter of circumstance while the other is shortcoming.
The most valuable lesson I have learned as a leader is the realization that I don’t ever really succeed. A strong leader surrounds themselves with peers and subordinate that will contribute towards a common goal and achieve success because of their own choices and actions. Additionally, they seek out mentors in order to avoid pitfalls and gain the advantage of experience and wisdom. Essentially, any actual success I had was in building the team. My responsibility lies in addressing failure to determine the best course of action to correct or modify existing behavior and potential outcomes. The success of a project, goal, mission or endeavor belongs to the team, not their leader.
Imagine the changes across the geopolitical landscape if this was the attitude implemented by our presidents, ambassadors, secretaries and generals. Our ability to positively influence other nations would drastically change with a less invasive approach. We would transform from a nation of apologists to a state of mentorship. To be sought out for expert advice and the wisdom to use knowledge correctly. This is a fulfilling and rewarding experience. I have often revisited my path to see exactly how I ended up with similar opportunities. While the specific event or series of steps remains unidentified it helps me understand why our nation’s leaders lack as providers of purpose, direction and motivation. How do you fail to identify the details of life long personal success yet find the external observations of multi-century decisions as a simple matter of fact?
Currently we witness proclamations of ethnic, racial, religious and other groups chanting why their specific lives matter. I whole-heartedly disagree. It is up to each individual to make their lives matter. The individual responsibility of every citizen is to be a leader in their own right by creating a positive impact on society and individual spheres of influence without encroaching upon the liberty of others. Using the “pay it forward” concept, a responsible person will choose to set the example as a leader. Perhaps this bottom up approach will be a stepping stone to changing our nation. Choose to mentor your leaders and influence positive change, do not choose to let your leaders influence you.