Can Everyone Be a Leader?

As we watch the news on the elections, it becomes clear.  The issues are complex.  No one approach has all the answers.  Often we look to leadership outside of ourselves to solve our problems.  There is no question that outside expertise is important.   Still, there is another kind of leadership, the kind that exists within you and me.  This kind of leadership may have more power than you think.

So often we see a leader as someone who has authority and control. Actually, leadership may have more to do with our self knowledge and personal integrity than getting others to agree. Then we lead by our example.  Knowing yourself and maintaining your values while staying connected to others is fundamental to our personal health and success at home and at work.  This, I believe, is true leadership. 

Within your contacts every day, someone could be watching you, closely observing your words and actions. Someone could be inspired by what you say and do. When you are aware of that influence and use it wisely, you are being a leader. Here are three tips for exploring this kind of leadership.

Make a Difference: Your Actions Count

Many of us have good ideas.  We want to make a difference, but the action needed seems too big and the ideas get tucked away. Then we feel frustrated, angry, and depressed because the problems did not get solved.   Taking action to make a difference is important.  With the many challenges before us, -- unemployment, declining resources, and the need to rebuild our local communities, we cannot wait for an expert’s solution or a leader’s permission to act.  Others may not know the situation as yourself.  Sometimes you know just what you have to do, and may have no other authority than the good intentions

The "Blessed Unrest:" Optimism and Hope

January is a time for new beginnings.  The legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminds us of the power of optimism in accomplishing our goals.   He understood the power of the actions of each individual. Since his powerful   “I have a dream” speech, much change has occurred.   

Education - a Real Education is More Than Schooling

Education -- what does it mean to you? -- assignments, textbooks, grades? Today, many  are questioning this approach.   John Gatto, in his book, Weapons of Mass Instruction,  believes that our real education is more than schooling.  Our real education, he believes, is not in the classroom but out in the world.  This education comes from building character and community. It carries more long term benefits than learning from tired books and lesson plans.

The "Blessed Unrest" - From Independence to Interdependence

With the celebration of the Declaration of Independence, America celebrated its deepest values - Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.   At the time America declared its independence from England, it faced formidable odds. The colonists had no organized militia, no monetary system, no established country,-- and no conveniences as electricity or cell phones.  They were ordinary people, -- farmers with turkey muskets, facing the English military -- at that time, the strongest in the world. Still, they rose to victory.

From Wall Street to Main Street - Look Around

As our financial system continues to crumble, a new economy is taking form. It is an economy that focuses on restoring the environment, increasing the well being of people, and building sustainable wealth in our local communities.  Rather than relying on Wall Street, it is one that places our future on Main Street. Rather than relying on relying on a Wall Street illusion that money is wealth, the new economy is built on new forms of democratic finance and business, more emphasis on local banks rooted in the communities they serve, on worker-owned cooperatives, and even new means of exchange.  The latest issue of "Yes" Magazine describes many of these efforts.

The Wake-Up Call Inspires Many

0ne of my favorite magazines is "Yes" Magazine. The latest issue has focused on the financial crisis as our best chance for a more positive future.  David Korten, an economist, one of the founders of the magazine, states  ". . . We should give thanks that financial collapse hit us before the worst of global warming and peak oil . . . It buys time to build a new economy that serves life rather than money.  It lays bare the fact that the existing financial system has brought our way of life and the natural systems on which we depend to the brink of collapse.  This wake-up call is inspiring unprecedented numbers of people to take action to bring forth the culture and institutions of a new economy that can serve us and sustain our living planet for generations to come."

Wake Up Call: Well Being of Children

Childhood is seen by many as a period of protection for the development of our youth. It is an important social investment in our future.  Some countries view the well being of their children as a measure of the well being of their society.  For example, in a country as Bhutan, the well being of children is a factor in the country's Gross National Happiness policy.  Bhutan's Prime Minister, Jigme Thinley, says "Happiness is a very serious business."  Basing their views on Buddhist principles, they believe that true development, is not merely economic or material, but spiritual as well.

Kids: Commodity or Community

As financial markets have collapsed, so also has the philosophy that gives money precedence over all else. Our attraction to money and materialism as a primary path to happiness is rapidly habituating. Increasingly, we are becoming aware of the limitations of a money driven economy. It has been particularly devastating in creating a culture for the healthy development of children.

Creating a Fresh Start: "Fired" or Inspired

As the economy tanks, the worst two words one wants to hear is "Your Fired."  While getting fired or losing a job is very difficult,  it also is an opportunity to create a fresh start.  Instead of struggling with "Your Fired," become inspired.  As our financial institutions have collapsed, so has the story that money is the measure of happiness, health, and wealth. Here are three tips for making a change.

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