The post offices are closed today—I’m glad. The government offices are closed today—I’m glad. The schools are closed today—I’m glad. I’m glad because it means I get to spend the day with my three grandson buddies, and I’m glad because the day honors Martin Luther King, Jr.
The turbulent 60’s were high school and college years for me. I remember the marches. I remember the cross burnings and lynchings. I remember sit-ins, Rosa Parks and water cannons. I remember Selma, Birmingham and Medgar Evers. I remember working with black laborers who were paid only $1.25 per hour to dig sewer ditches. And, I remember Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the great leaders of the 20th century. If I were an African-American, I would undoubtedly say he was the greatest leader of the 20th century.
When we celebrate July 4th, blacks join in, but they remember they were still slaves in 1776. When we celebrate Washington’s birthday, blacks join in, but they remember that he owned slaves. To African Americans, it is Lincoln and MLK, Jr., who led the fight, first for freedom, and then for equality. These two stand alone in black history; there are no rivals to their legacy. They both led with:
The lives of millions were impacted for good by their leadership. Both died young, brought down by an assassin’s bullet. They believed that…
“The quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important.”
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Most of us will not have the opportunity to impact millions by our leadership. However, all of us can impact a few, some hundreds, and a few, thousands. Whatever the size of your sphere of influence, if you want to make a difference, you will have to lead with purpose, courage, vision, resolve and selflessness. Do that and you will leave footprints that endure long after you are gone. Isn’t that what is really important?
© Copyright 2012 by Dick Wells, The Hard Lessons Company
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"The best way to lead people into the future is to connect with them deeply in the present."
Kouzes & Posner