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Opinions of Friday, 29 July 2016

Columnist: H.K Garbadeen

True leadership

"Let he who would move the world first move himself" Socrates

I have read numerous books on amazing men. Men that defied our perceptions of what could be. Men that gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “limitless possibilities”. Making it span past borders that we now realize cannot be set. And I marvel at their stories.

The great conquests of Saladin, one of the few men that managed to unite the Muslim world from Egypt to Turkey to Saudi Arabia. The man who in the midst of battle ordered a horse be sent to his foe, King Richard I the Lionheart, when he fell off his horse in battle. So great was his respect for his enemy that he could not bear a victory over so formidable an opponent on account of a slight mishap.

Or Hannibal Barca. A man regarded by some as the greatest general that ever lived. The man who literally could not be stopped by a mountain and proof that an impossibility is not but a deed yet to be accomplished. He rose from his ranks to General, to become one of the fiercest opponents that Rome, the greatest empire, had ever seen.

So great was the threat that even after his defeat by the Romans, and the Carthageans had reluctantly signed a treaty bankrupting and disarming the empire, the Romans returned unsatisfied that this empire was adequately crippled and burnt the whole city to the ground.

Or the lone man who famously stood in front of a column of tanks, temporarily stopping their advance, and refused incessantly to let them pass even when they tried to outmaneuver him. A day after the Tiananmen Square Massacre. A man whose name and identity has been lost to history. Such amazing stories. Such courage. Acts that render you speechless. Could we ever live up to such standards?

I find the concept of the term or title “leader” to be incoherently vague and a tad intimidating. Like the concept of mind or spirit, it’s something we all have an idea of but often find difficult to put into words. And even when put into words remains stubbornly elusive and is subjective. But there are some qualities that are associated with it regardless of the wording in the definition. These qualities are self awareness, self direction, vision, ability to motivate and social awareness.

My best definition so far is one by an unknown author. It states: “A good leader inspires others with confidence in him; a great leader inspires others with confidence in themselves.”

But I wonder. Is today’s perception of who a leader is accurate? Has its true meaning been lost to time, been diluted with the inadequacies and discrepancies of our current so called leaders?

Why is it that today an elderly man whose duties to his wallet override those to his people is given more respect and held in high esteem? While a quiet humble man unknown to wealth is looked down upon if not looked at with blind eyes, deaf ears, dulled minds and closed hearts.

We complain today that our leaders do their people no justice. But I wonder, what would happen if a man were to be taken from the street at random and hurled to a seat of power. Will the same issues not arise? Will his resolve for self sustenance not always take a front seat?

So if leadership is not dependant on the position of an individual or his social standing, then who is a leader? How big an impact must he have on society to earn the title of leader? How big a heart must he have to be adored? How wise and firm in torrents of instability must he be to be respected?

I have come to the conclusion that we are all leaders in our own right. Whether of our homes, our families, our relationships or just ourselves. That the beauty in leadership is the ability to acknowledge the smallest acts of kindness, the unnoticed sacrifices we make for each other. Leaders are the unsung heroes. Those who yearn not for the fame, not for the glory, but for a clear conscious and a filled heart.

I believe I too can achieve some form of greatness. Because like every leader, man or woman, who has left his or her mark on the world, I will in turn leave my own. For through my pain and cries I have found my strength. Though my loneliness and doubt, I have found my confidence.

Through my sadness and worries I have found my hope. And through my struggles and perseverance I have found grace. I have embraced my hardships and I wear my scars of torment, from the battle of life proud. I have conquered the relentless pull, drowning me in a bottomless pit of despair and emerged victor.

I have left behind the constant darkness of negativity that once blinded me, to a heavenly bright light that was what could be. For though my voice may be soft, it is with its sincerity louder than thunder and with its gentleness more captivating than any roar. It drowns out the noise and creates a pull of soft intricate tranquil that can placate even the most tempestuous storm.

Who is a leader? A leader could be the beggar in the street, the quiet girl whose eyes are ever pacing the ground in humility, an unemployed educated man struggling to make ends meet.

A leader could be you or me. We all have the potential. We do not need a titillating story to tell. They are all already beautifully crafted with ingenuity that we could not fathom. We are worthy. We are leaders.

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