At this time of year, as students have recently graduated and are beginning or enhancing their careers, it’s a good time to reflect on the importance of leadership and service, and how these are intertwined. Most people go through life seeking answers to questions already posed and using solutions to problems already solved. They understand and describe life as it is already happening and predict the future based on current circumstances—but leaders declare the future, commit to the future, and do whatever it takes to make the future happen.
Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw once said, “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.”
Leaders create a future without evidence and without authority. When John F. Kennedy declared that we would have a man on the moon in 10 years, there was plenty of evidence by scientists who have the authority, to say that it would never happen. But Kennedy, who had no authority as a scientist, made this declaration. And we were able to put a man on the moon within 10 years because we put ourselves at stake and committed to it.
I believe that leaders are in service of their vision and others. What I mean by this is that leaders have the humility to be guided by a vision, not by their own needs or wants, not by their likes or dislikes, not by their circumstances, not by their past. Everything that they do, say and choose to be is in service to that vision. Leaders see service as an honor. We should all remember that it is an honor and a privilege to be in service to others. To be chosen as a leader is perhaps one of the greatest honors that a human being can have.
So I invite all those reading to continue to be leaders in service to others and in service to your visions. Forge your own paths, follow your heart and pursue your passions. Continue to work hard. Remember, the people that evolve as leaders and heroes, are just ordinary people. Leaders are ordinary people who take extraordinary action to get extraordinary results.