Yesterday was the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr holiday. I’ve written many posts over the years about Dr. King so I decided to skip it this year and concentrate on a part of his message from the past.

Let’s start with this quote:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Creative Commons License David via Compfight

People are often led to causes and often become committed to great ideas through persons who personify those ideas. They have to find the embodiment of the idea in flesh and blood in order to commit themselves to it.

In the book Great Leaders Ask Great Questions, John Maxwell used this quote as a way of telling leaders why it’s important for them to work at their craft and become great leaders. He stated that people often look to leaders for inspiration and guidance.

He’s not wrong, yet I feel there’s something missing. The missing piece is why people need to wait for leaders to find their own inspiration and provide their own guidance.

I have to admit that I’m good at leadership but I’m a bad follower. I work well with others and there might be times when I need to ask a lot of questions to understand something so that I can either make improvements on myself or on processes for others.

I also understand the need as a leader to inspire others when they need it. It’s smart to do because it’s one of the easiest ways of getting things done. Some leaders think fear is the best way but history shows us that when people are working to try to not make mistakes, that’s when they make most of them.

If I go off the premise that leadership and inspiration and guidance somehow go hand in hand together, it’s not such a far-fetched belief that it behooves everyone to try to become a leader, if only to lead themselves, motivate themselves, guide themselves and not stand around waiting for someone else to take care of all these things for them.

What a concept right? I will acknowledge that it’s not easy for everyone across the board to do. Unfortunately, there are a great number of people who don’t have the background to know how to become a leader of others, let alone themselves. The majority of people who say “I can take care of myself” can’t.

One of the reasons I talk about leadership so much is I know that when people develop leadership skills to work with others, it actually improves their lives as well. By extension, it stands to reason that even if a person isn’t hoping or needing to be a hired leader, the skills involved to be one are precisely what many people need to take control of their own lives.

A big question asked often these days is where are the black leaders like there used to be in the past. I always say those days are gone and they need to be gone. We can’t always look for someone else to improve our lives. We need to have the skills and willpower to take the initiative and become our own leaders, become the leaders a community of people might need, hand and hand, arm in arm, working towards either an individual or shared outcome.

Dr. King also said “The time is always right to do the right thing.” The right thing might be learning how to find the leadership in ourselves. I like to think I’ve found mine; what about you?
 

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