Leadership Spokane is committed to the truism that leaders always learn. Every Presidents’ Day, as we pause to celebrate President Washington and President Lincoln’s leadership, I use it to stand back and provide perspective on my own life and leadership challenges. Leaders always face challenges and true servant leaders with healing and empathy often times onboard some of their follower’s stresses as well. Every February, I use the enormous challenges our Founding Fathers faced to ensure I have the proper view of my own leadership challenges. Simply stated, the enormity of the tasks our original Presidents faced immediately gives me a better perspective on my own personal challenges. For example, author David McCullough’s book John Adams on our second President provides a unique look on what the early Presidents faced in the founding of our Republic. As if just going to the grocery store with a list of needed groceries, John Adams penned notes to himself on what needed to be accomplished while traveling to the Continental Congress in 1776 with his horse and carriage. Among the more daunting tasks: 1) An Alliance to be formed with France and Spain; 2) Government to be formed in every colony; 3) Forces to be raised and maintained; and 4) a Declaration of Independency. In each of these tasks, John Adams and his colleagues, including George Washington, were incredibly successful. To paraphrase a future great President Lincoln, they created a government of the people, by the people, for the people, that shall not perish from this earth.
While each of us has everyday challenges, some more difficult than others, John Adams’ notes to himself remind us that our personal challenges are clearly winnable. Today, as leaders, we have a mission to accomplish of leading well by serving those that follow us. We fortunately have a good guidebook to lead us in Robert Greenleaf’s The Servant Leader and history buttresses us for what we know is right — ‘perspective is important and starts at the leader top.’ So, as we pause for a moment in a week to remember the great accomplishments of Presidents’ Washington and Lincoln, we should also pause to be thankful that our immediate task next week is not to figure out how to have “Forces raised and maintained!” Whatever our own leadership duties, we should come to work confident that our goals are clearly achievable, and each of us, in a small way, support the vision for America that our Founding Fathers first had over two hundred years ago. These great men aimed to form a nation…instead they changed a world. Similarly, our servant leadership changes our follower’s world and simply having a perspective that we can ensure small victories is key to being the change we what to be. Our charge as servant leaders is to write our own legacy of excellence and remain part of the movement our Founding Fathers started over 238 years ago to enjoy our freedoms. As we move through 2017, President’s Day should provide perspective that we are still part of that noble movement, and our goals, our hopes and dreams are absolutely still achievable, and not nearly as insurmountable as our Founding Fathers endured. Yes, leaders must keep perspective!
“Perseverance and perspective until victory.” ~ Lincoln Diaz-Balart