The most important step to becoming a leader is to find
something greater than yourself and dedicate yourself to it.
--- Anthony Silard
With race riots consuming Birmingham, Alabama, in May 1963, Robert F. Kennedy warned his brother John that if he did not act soon, they would spread to many cities across America—especially in the North. JFK sent Congress a groundbreaking civil rights bill that lost him the backing of the millions of white Southern voters who had helped him achieve a narrow election victory three years earlier. John acknowledged to his brother that he might lose the 1964 election because of his decision, and then declared, “If we’re going to go down, let’s go down on a matter of principle.” Here is a clear example of a leader believing in something greater than himself so strongly that he was willing to go down with his ship over it. Go down he did, yet the ship he built is still navigating the rough waters toward racial equality.
What do you believe in that’s greater than yourself? Write down something you feel so strongly about changing that you would be willing to suffer for it. What about the world makes you feel uncomfortable, even angry? Channel this energy into an unbridled passion to work for change. Don’t let these thoughts ramble into, “But someone else is more appropriate to do this,” or “I don’t have the time right now. Someday….” Change begins with you, in the only moment that exists—the present. Get started.
What do you want to change in the world with your limited time here? How has your motivation to work for change evolved throughout your life? What are you prepared to do about it now—starting in this New Year? Tell us about it in the comments.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).