“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” -John Quincy Adams
“The real leader has no need to lead – he is content to point the way.” -Henry Miller
You do not have to be a general commanding a battalion or running a corporation to be a leader. Leaders can also lead you through life. Leadership is about leaving a lasting effect on people by giving them motivation and purpose. There are leaders like this all around us. You just have to look.
I married into a very large family. My mother-in-law, who herself is a strong woman, has several brothers. The eldest brother has unfortunately suffered from several heart issues. Maybe it is due to this condition that has shaped his philosophy of life and made him the man who he is today.
When I first met this Uncle, several years ago, I was very nervous. In Hindu families the eldest son is a position of prominence and power. Meeting him was like meeting my wife’s father. What would he think of me? Would he accept me for whom I am-an American born Hindu who does not speak Hindi?
I remembered this day vividly. As I entered my mother-in-law’s home I saw Uncle for the first time. He seemed larger than life; maybe it was my preconceived expectations but he seemed almost giant-like. As I reached to shake his hand I looked into his eyes. They were stern and I felt them sizing me up in a blink. I said to myself, “Oh Oh!” This is going to me more difficult then I thought.
Then a smile appeared, a very big smile, and a rumble of laughter that fill the room – “Hello Arun. How are you?” In that split second, I felt an intense warmness from him that drew me in. The handshake quickly evolved into a warm embrace and all preconceived expectations seem to wash away.
I got to know my new Uncle. He was a soft-spoken gentleman who spoke as much English as he could in my presence to make sure I felt like a part of the family. His ideas and philosophy of life, which have been shaped from his experiences, gave him strength. I felt a need to learn from him and understand him. Can his ideas help me in my own life? The answer was yes. There was no magic to the type of person he is. He lived life with a set of simple philosophies that allowed him to be strong.
From him I learned three ideas to living life and in return learned about myself.
A person must have a big heart. Whether it is courage or love, you should have it in abundance. A large heart will help you through the trials and tribulations of life.
A person must have a strong mind. The mind needs to be fed and stimulated to remain strong. It should be open to new ideas and ways of thinking. The saying, “You cannot teach and old dog new tricks,” should never be the axiom. You must always be learning and experiencing all that life has to offer.
A person must have a fit body. You should maintain a healthy body. Like your mind your body needs to be strong. It should be taken care of and nurtured.
In my search to improve my own leadership skills I often think about my Uncle Pasho and how he lives his life with a big heart, strong mind, and fit body. Leadership must first and foremost come from within you. It is only by understanding yourself that you can be successful.