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  • Thrive Detroit

The Monthly JOW: The Leader in You

“The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” – John Dewey

The focus of this month’s  Jewel of Wisdom is leadership: a concept that is familiar and generally understood by many. But I won’t speak in general terms; I will speak for myself and what comes to mind when I hear the word “leadership.” I define true leadership as being in possession of traits noteworthy and exceptional, and it is rare to find it in its purest form. True leaders possess absolute integrity; are visionary, optimistic, selfless, courageous, and wise; and have the ability to inspire and motivate others. And though there are several more leader-type attributes that could be added to the list, these represent the core qualities of real leaders. With that said, look around with careful thought and scrutiny at those you and the world regard as “leaders,” and then ask yourself how many “real” leaders truly abound.

Consider the present state of our city, much of society, and the world as a whole. In many regards, the current view is, though not hopeless, definitely dismal. Yet the irony is that we are and have been in no shortage of those regarded as “leaders,” those who, in many regards, we have entrusted with our lives.

It’s time to step up, Detroit, because the reality is that the change we desire to see in the world must begin with each of us individually. This cannot be overstated, because the ramifications of our failing to grasp this concept and act accordingly will be to the detriment of humanity. We all possess the potential to be leaders in our own right, with the ability to help change the course of our destiny and that of future generations, beginning, simply, by making the decision to do so–hence the quote above: “The self is not something ready-made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.” The key phrase here is “choice of action.” We don’t have to set out on a mission to save the world; we can choose to act, leading with our hearts, and beginning right in our own homes, with our own families. 

Imagine the possibilities if we as parents each made a sound commitment to model excellence in everything we say and do; being an example of character and integrity; speaking life, hope, and optimism. How would this world be different if we each made it our personal mission in life to encourage, empower, and inspire others with our passion for living and vision for our future, our shared destiny?

Some believe that leadership ability is something you’re born with, and perhaps to some degree there are certain dispositional characteristics evident in early childhood that foretell this to be true. However, as with anything, if you desire something greatly enough, and endeavor to make it happen, you can do, be, and have anything. My sole purpose in writing this month’s Jewel of Wisdom is to encourage and inspire leadership in each person that is reading this article. Determine to give your life meaning and purpose.

“I think the purpose of life is to be useful, to be responsible, to be honorable, to be compassionate. It is, after all, to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have made some difference that you lived at all.” – Leo C. Rosten

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